Gearing up for the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress today formed three crucial committees to look after coordination, manifesto and publicity in the polls, with the old guard maintaining its position in the core set up under party president Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi formed the key nine-member Core Group Committee comprising A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala and K C Veugopal.
While all those in the Core Committee have worked under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, those in the publicity and manifesto committees comprise old-timers as well as some fresh faces.
The 19-member Manifesto Committee comprises veterans like former finance minister P Chidambaram, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former union ministers Jairam Ramesh, Salman Khurshid, Shashi Tharoor and Kumari Selja, besides former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal, party's women's wing head Sushmita Dev, party Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda and Tamradhwaj Sahu, who is also the party's Backward class department chief, are also part of the panel.
The others are Bindu Krishnan, Raghuveer Meena, Bhalchandra Mungekar, Meenakshi Natarajan, Rajni Patil, Sam Pitroda, Sachin Rao and Lalithesh Tripathi.
Gandhi also formed a committee comprising 13 leaders who will look after the party's publicity during the elections, AICC general secretary Organisation Ashok Gehlot said.
The Publicity Committee includes Randeep Surjewala, former ministers Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Rajeev Shukla, besides Bhakta Charan Das, Praveen Chakravarty, Milind Deora, Kumar Ketkar, Pawan Khera, VD Satheesan, Jaiveer Shergill, party's social media head Divya Spandana and former Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari.
Announcing the committees, Gehlot said with the constitution of these panels, the party is in election mode and will start the work of putting up a manifesto and draw strategy for publicity and coordination.
The decision by Rahul Gandhi shows he has chosen against any drastic overhaul. Party leaders said he has opted for a blend of young and old leaders, taking the experience of the veterans and the energy of the youth together.
Sources said that convenors of these panels will be announced later.