Sonia Gandhi forms Congress panels; some letter-writers accommodated, Sibal left out

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who left Delhi for a few days on medical advice on Friday, constituted three committees each comprising former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some letter-writers barring Kapil Sibal.

Gandhi, who left Delhi with son Rahul Gandhi, approved the committees on economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security to discuss related matters and formulate the party’s position on policy matters, the most recent being India staying away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The committees feature four leaders who recently wrote a letter to Sonia demanding an organisational overhaul. These are Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappa Moily.

The four leaders, after flagging their concerns in the controversial letter, refrained from making critical remarks of the leadership.

Veteran Kapil Sibal, the only letter writer to again castigate the Congress for its inertia in the face of poll losses, hasn’t found a place in any panel.

Anand Sharma and Tharoor have been named in the committee on foreign affairs. Sharma had recently contradicted Congress stand on India’s position vis a vis the RCEP and has argued that India should have joined the trade block. This was against the previous party line which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi articulated last year when he repeatedly made public statements against India joining the RCEP.

Ghulam Nabi Azad and Moily have been made members of the committee on national security.

Each of the three panels consists of five leaders including a convenor.

The panel on economic affairs features Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh (convenor).

The committee on foreign affairs has Manmohan Singh, Anand Sharma, Tharoor, Saptagiri Ulaka and Salman Khurshid (convenor).

The third panel on national security has Singh, Azad, Moily, V Vaithilingam and Vincent Pala (convenor).

Sonia Gandhi meanwhile left Delhi today with her son Rahul Gandhi amid calls for review of the party’s Bihar poll loss.

Congress sources said she had been advised by doctors to stay away from Delhi to avoid pollution.

Gandhi is to stay in Goa or Chennai, said sources.

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