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Opinion

Cong appoints Pawan Bansal interim treasurer after Ahmed Patel’s death

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Congress announced on Saturday the appointment of 72-year-old Pawan Bansal, responsible for the party’s administrative affairs as interim treasurer after the death of Ahmed Patel.

In a statement, the party’s general secretary, KC Venugopal, said: “(The measure is) an interim measure to address the duties of treasurer with immediate effect.”

Members of Congress view the measure as a makeshift arrangement until a permanent president of Congress is elected early next year and selects a new team. Bansal was the only one who could immediately assume the position having worked closely with Motilal Vora, who was treasurer of Congress from 2002 to 2018, when his advanced age (now 92 years old) forced him to hand over Patel. There was a great urgency to find a capable replacement as treasurer, party members said.

According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms earlier this year, Congress reported Rs 918 crore of revenue in 2018-19, which is 361% more than its revenue in the previous financial year. A former official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the party spends between 5 and 10 million rupees a month on general administrative expenses.

Traditionally, the treasurer position has always been in the hands of an experienced hand with many contacts in the states. Bansal is expected to work closely with senior ministers such as Ashok Gehlot from Rajasthan and Amarinder Singh from Punjab.

”There are two people who write checks for a party. The general secretary of a particular department paying an expense and the treasurer. All expenses, from salaries to hiring a chartered flight, have to go through them, ” said a former supplier of the office on condition of anonymity.

Congressional leaders recalled the role Patel played as treasurer and senior strategist. “A treasurer must not only have the trust of various stakeholders, but also the ability to influence, cajole, persuade, pressure or make sure they contribute. These include both party members and non-members. You must also have the ability to create, maintain and sustain long-term relationships, regardless of political ups and downs. Above all, he needs to have the implicit trust of the party on whose behalf he acts and receives. In all of this, AP stood out! He was a natural treasurer, although his long tenures as political secretary overshadowed his talents in this position, ” Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manusinghvi said on Friday.

Bansal was a minister of railways in the government of the United Progressive Alliance, but resigned in 2013 after his nephew was allegedly caught accepting a bribe of nearly Rs 90 lakhs for placing an officer on the Railway Board. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not find any evidence against the minister, but charged his nephew Vijay Singla.The Directorate of Enforcement submitted a charge sheet in the case last month.

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