Congress state units likely to ask Sonia to name chiefs


New Delhi : The choice of new chiefs of the Congress’ state units is not expected to go through the election process as most states are likely to authorise party president Sonia Gandhi to decide the appointments, sources said Sunday.

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The Congress units in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana Sunday authorised the Congress president to choose their new state unit chiefs.

Congress sources said the other states are also expected to pass one-line resolutions authorising the party president to appoint the state unit chief and other office bearers.

They said these resolutions were a way to avoid factional turf battles in the states from getting bitter and presenting a picture of disunity in the party.

Coinciding with Gandhi’s re-election as party chief earlier this month, the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA) drew up a broad election schedule for the election for state presidents and other positions, with the process to be completed by the third week of September. Each state returning officer had the option to fix a schedule broadly confirming to the dates given by the CEA.

Party sources said that wherever there have been demands for replacing the state chiefs – including in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh – rival factions have been lobbying with the central leadership in favour of their candidates.

While loyalists of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh are trying for his return as party chief, in Haryana, state chief Phool Chand Mullana lost the assembly poll and there have been demands from sections in the party for his replacement.

The party lost the last assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and demands have been made by some leaders for repalcing state Congress chiefs Suresh Pachauri and Dhanendra Sahu respectively.

In Jharkhand, state unit chief Pradeep Balmuchu has held the post for more than one term. Rajasthan’s state chief C.P. Joshi is now a union minister.