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Salman Khursheed made U.P. Congress chief

By Our Special Correspondent (The Hindu) - 11/07/2004

NEW DELHI, NOV. 6. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, today sent back senior party leader, Salman Khursheed, as the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit, a move that virtually forecloses any reconciliation with the ruling Samajwadi Party.

Announcing this, the AICC general secretary, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, looking after the party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, said the appointment would strengthen the party. The formal decision came a day after Ms. Gandhi said she was concerned about the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Khursheed, who was recently inducted into the AICC as general secretary, would be at the helm of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh for the second time in four years. He was the UPCC chief between 1998 and 2000 and since then the party appointed three chiefs, including the outgoing Jagdambika Pal.

Known for his strident anti-Samajwadi Party views, Mr. Khursheed would take charge this time under changed circumstances. The Samajwadi Party is running the Government supported by the Congress from outside and the Congress is currently leading a coalition at the Centre.

Over the past few months, State Congress leaders have been exerting pressure on the Central leadership to withdraw support and critical of the policies of the Samajwadi Party Government.

A major shake-up in the organisation to make it more effective would be undertaken. In addition, there are reports that Rahul Gandhi, besides devoting time in his Amethi constituency, would assist the party in other parts of the State.