Agencies, New Delhi
Congress on Thursday appointed Arvinder Singh Lovely and Bhupesh Baghel as new PCC chiefs of Delhi and Chhattisgarh respectively signalling the party’s intent to bring sweeping changes in state units after its debacle in recent assembly elections.
Former minister and sitting MLA Lovely replaces J P Agarwal, who resigned taking “moral responsibility” for the party’s worst-ever defeat in the recent Delhi Assembly election.
Lovely, 46, has been active in politics since 1987 and is known to be close to senior Congress leader Ajay Maken.
He was elected as General Secretary, Delhi Pradesh Youth Congress in 1990. He was made a Minister in the Shiela Dikshit Cabinet in 2003 and handled a number of key portfolios like Transport, Education and Revenue.
Agarawal had resigned soon after Dikshit had blamed the state unit of the party for not extending the required support to her in the election campaign.
A former minister in the state, Baghel, who was programme coordinator of the party under PCC chief and Union Minister Charan Das Mahant, replaced him within a fortnight of the assembly election results that saw the Congress losing even in Chhattisgarh where it had pinned high hopes.
The announcement was made by party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who said that the appointments have been made with immediate effect by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Mahant was made acting PCC chief on June 3, a week after senior party leaders in the state including PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel were massacred in a Maoist attack.
Mahant was not on the best of terms with former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the party had to take recourse to dinner diplomacy in Delhi to break the ice between them.
It was the bitter rivalry between the two leaders that had prompted Congress to name octogenarian Motilal Vora as the campaign committee chief for the state to prevent the matter from slipping out of control.
The changes in a way have set in motion the process for an organisational revamp to make the party fighting fit ahead of Lok Sabha election.
The Congress had yesterday replaced its Goa PCC chief Subhash A Shirodkar and appointed former MP John Fernandes as the state unit president. There are also reports that young party MP Ashok Tanwar will be made the PCC chief of Haryana in place of Phulchand Mulana, whose replacement is long due.