Sonia Gandhi on Thursday appointed Rahul Gandhi as the chief of the party's election coordination committee. The move, which materialised amid the hope of the party supporters on a larger role of Rahul Gandhi, will be seen as a forerunner to his projection as the Congress's next prime ministerial candidate.
Besides Rahul, the committee includes Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Madhusudan Mistry, Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh. All of them barring Mistry, an MP from Gujarat, were part of the party's campaign team during the last Lok Sabha elections.
Sonia Gandhi also spoke on her plans to form three sub-groups for the Lok Sabha polls besides the panel headed by Rahul at the 'Samvad Baithak' held at Surajkund in Haryana on Nov 9.
The members of the panel and the sub-groups comprise mostly the old faces and revealed a lack of bench strength. Some young leaders were included in the publicity body but the tasks of coordinating pre-poll alliances and preparing the poll manifesto were left to the senior members.
The sub-group to work on pre-poll alliances comprises AK Antony, Mukul Wasnik, Jitendra Singh, Suresh Pachauri, Veerappa Moily and Mohan Prakash. This group will reach out to new political allies and it will particularly focus on states like Bihar and Karnataka.
The manifesto committee will be led by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and includes leaders like Antony, Salman Khurshid, Anand Sharma, Sushilkumar Shinde, Sandeep Dikshit, Renuka Chowdhary, PL Punia and Mohan Gopal.
The communication and publicity sub-group includes Digvijay Singh, Manish Tewari, Ambika Soni, Deepender Hooda, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajeev Shukla and Bhakta Charan Das.
It is also learnt that Sonia Gandhi, who said that both the party and government would have to work closely keeping in mind the next big elections, is likely to carry out a reshuffle in the AICC secretariat before the Parliament's winter session begins on Nov 22.