4 ‘dissenters’ on Cong panels, Sibal omitted

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20

Congress president Sonia Gandhi today constituted three internal advisory committees comprising, among others, four “dissenters”— Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappa Moily — who had recently written a controversial letter to the party chief demanding organisational overhaul.

While former PM Manmohan Singh has been named on all panels, senior leader Kapil Sibal, who reiterated the demand for overhaul after the party’s poor performance in Bihar Assembly elections, has been left out. Sonia, who along with son Rahul Gandhi moved to Goa today for a few days to avoid Delhi pollution, approved the panels to formulate the party’s position on economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security.

The most recent issue the Congress has been debating is India’s decision to stay away from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Sharma, Tharoor, Azad and Moily had flagged their concerns in the controversial letter in August, but have since refrained from public criticism of the party leadership. The three panels have five members each, including a convener. Sharma and Tharoor have been named on the foreign affairs committee. This even as Sharma had recently contradicted the party’s stand vis-a-vis India’s position on RCEP, arguing New Delhi should join the trade block. The committee also comprises Saptagiri Ulaka and Salman Khurshid (convener).

Azad and Moily have been made members of the national security panel, also comprising V Vaithilingam and Vincent Pala (convener). The panel on economic affairs features P Chidambaram, Mallikarjun Kharge, Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh (convener).

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