AICC reshuffle, CWC appointments very soon: Oscar Fernandes

By Prashant Sood, IANS
Monday, January 24, 2011

NEW DELHI - Names for a new All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest-decision making body, have almost been finalised and they will comprise experienced people as well as new faces, according to party leader Oscar Fernandes.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi would decide the timing of the announcements, Fernandes, chief of the Congress’ Central Election Authority (CEA), told IANS in an interview.

“There are people with experience in it (working committee). Also there is an expectation that some new faces will be inducted. (The announcement) will meet both requirements,” Fernandes told IANS.

He said the announcement of names would take place “very soon” but did not elaborate.

The party’s working committee has been functioning as a steering committee since re-election of Sonia Gandhi as party president in September last year.

Asked about some union ministers holding party posts, Fernandes said that it was not always possible to follow the “one person one post” norm in deciding party appointments.

“There are people with experience whose services are always required… the party needs people with experience who can deliver. But new talent has scope,” he said.

Union ministers including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik, V. Narayanasamy, M. Veerappa Moily and A.K. Antony are also serving as general secretaries or as in-charges of states.

Fernandes, 69, said that like the members of the working committee, it would be a new term for the AICC office-bearers whose names will be declared by the Congress president.

He said the party president has the powers to reconstitute the AICC and the working committee during her tenure, which was extended to five years in the party plenary last month.

Asked about the role of party general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Fernandes said he was doing “very basic work” and the party will benefit for a long time from people who have trained under him. Rahul Gandhi is general secretary in charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India.

Asked about follow-up action on steps suggested by Sonia Gandhi in the plenary to improve the working of the party, he said that coordination committees were being set up in all the states “on priority” and rallies organised to highlight the flagship programmes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in various assembly segments across the country.

He said the party general secretaries have been asked to speed up the process of appointing monitoring committees at various levels in states to look at the implementation of the flagship programmes.

Fernandes, who is a former union minister and a Congress MP from Karnataka, backed state Governor H.R. Bhardwaj’s decision to accord prosecution sanction against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

“Unless there is a prima facie case, unless he is sure of it, he would not have given sanction… If you are holding office, it does not mean you cannot be prosecuted under the constitution. The governor is only facilitating a legal process. He is not saying that it (an offence) has been committed or not,” he said.

Fernandes, who was first elected as an MP in 1980, said the BJP government in Karnataka had faced several controversies and there were “so many issues before the Lok Ayukta.”

He said the Congress “will definitely come back to power in the state in the next assembly polls.”

Defending the government on the issue of price rise, he said it was in part a consequence of growth. “Credit is available to farmers due to policies of the government. Purchasing power of labourers has increased due to the steps taken. All this additional money has to be utilised in terms of nutrition. Earlier, supply was more than demand but now the demand is more, but supply is the same,” he said.

Asked about the logjam in parliament on the opposition’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam which led to a near washout of the winter session, Fernandes said he did not think the stalemate will continue.

“I do not think the opposition can take it beyond a point,” he said.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at

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