Ex-NAC secy named Cong SC dept chief

Koppula Raju, a 1981 batch IAS officer from Andhra Pradesh, was appointed chairman of the Congress' Scheduled Castes department on Monday. Raju had resigned from service few weeks ago to make a lateral entry into the AICC. He was working as a special secretary in the Andhra Pradesh government.

Sources say he has been handpicked by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Raju joined the NAC as joint secretary in 2010 and continued with the Gandhi-led panel after promotion as additional secretary earlier this year till July. Before his stint in Delhi, he had served in various capacities in Andhra Pradesh including as principal secretary in the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister's office. The post of chairman of the Scheduled Caste department has been lying vacant since 2008 after Yogendra Makwana, who was then heading the wing, was removed.

Sources said the appointment of Raju as also changes in the party's women's wing and Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Raj Sangathan announced on Monday, marked the beginning of the much-delayed exercise of reconstitution of the AICC departments and cells.

The Rahul imprint was clearly visible in the announcements. Meenakshi Natarajan considered his close aide was appointed chairperson of the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Raj Sangathan, replacing senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar. Natarajan was dropped as AICC secretary in the last reshuffle, but it had since become clear that she would be shifted to the Sangathan.

Although it is not clear what Aiyar's role in the Sangathan would be, the AICC statement said an advisory committee would be constituted for the Sangathan soon. Aiyar had been nurturing the Sangathan for some six years now. Harshwardhan Sapkal has been made the Sangathan's vice-chairman.

The party also announced former national office bearer of the NSUI and former Madhya Pradesh Mahila Congress president Shobha Oza as the president of the All-India Mahila Congress, replacing Anita Verma. Kerala Mahila Congress chief Bindu Krishna was appointed vice-president of All-India Mahila Congress.

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