Rahul Gandhi may retain Sonia team with few changes

Contrary to the general perception that Rahul Gandhi's formal ascension as the Congress vice-president will lead to organisational revamp, with party veterans making way for youngsters, he is likely to largely retain his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's team.

Rahul reached out to senior party leaders Wednesday, praising their "depth of knowledge" and seeking their "help and guidance" in carrying out his vision for the party. Interacting with party office-bearers at the AICC headquarters here, he made it clear that he wants to take everybody along.

Congress sources said that while there would be "some changes" in the organisational reshuffle, likely to be effected shortly, it would reflect "continuity with change" and not be "like an abrupt power transfer" to a new team. Among those likely to be divested of organisational responsibility are D R Shandil, AICC in charge of Meghalaya who is now a minister in Himachal Pradesh, and Gulchain Singh Charak, AICC in-charge of Punjab and Bihar against whom Sonia has received many complaints. Rahul, however, is likely to effect many changes at the level of PCCs, said sources.

Escorted by Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, and AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, Rahul, clad in jeans and a white kurta, met office-bearers at the party office for about half-an-hour today. He told them that while many Youth Congress workers earlier had a different perception about senior leaders, their opinion changed after they interacted with party veterans during the Jaipur Chintan Shivir last week.

Quoting a Youth Congress leader, Rahul said he was "shocked" to see the depth of knowledge of party veterans in all spheres. "There is lot of talent and potential in the party. The only drawback has been that it has not been channelised. We have to focus on that," an AICC office-bearer quoted him as saying.

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