New Delhi: Anil Shastri, the editor of Congress mouthpiece 'Sandesh', has been replaced by senior party leader Girja Vyas in a reconstitution of AICC's departments and cells by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Former Union Minister Renuka Choudhary has been made party spokesperson along with party MP Rashid Alvi who hails from Uttar Pradesh where assembly polls are due next year.

Shastri, who is a special invitee to Congress Working Committee, had courted controversy recently over an editorial in 'Sandesh' in which he had attacked the government for sending four senior ministers to receive yoga guru Ramdev at the airport.

AICC had distanced itself from the editorial dubbing it as the personal view of Shastri and asking him not to put his own views in the party's mouthpiece.

Shastri has now been made in-charge of the Hindi department while Pankaj Sharma, also associated with Sandesh, has been made its secretary.

Girija Vyas, a former Chairman of the AICC media department, has also been made chief of the party's Vichar Vibhag.

Another change effected in Congress Sandesh is the inclusion of Union Minister Jairam Ramesh as one of the two members of the Editorial Board replacing Sarvajit Singh who had squarely blamed DMK for losses of Congress in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Assembly elections.

He had also said Congress must not lose its vote bank due to the mistakes of its coalition partners.

Another member of the board Union Minister Salman Khurshid continues. The AICC was facing a shortage of spokespersons since Jayanthi Natarajan joined the union cabinet in a reshuffle last month. Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed was made in-charge of West Bengal, while Mohan Prakash had become a General Secretary in the last AICC reshuffle.

Ahmed was temporarily allowed to brief the media recently. However, his name now stands excluded from the list.

The party now has four spokespersons including Manish Tewari and Abhishek Singhvi.

The newly-made AICC general secretary Vilas Muttemar has been given the charge of monitoring the government's flagship programmes and party programmes and party secretary Vivek Bansal is attached to him.

The party has also constituted a new Research and Coordination Department with former Madhya Pradesh PCC chief Suresh Pachouri as its Convenor.

The high-level department has several senior leaders and union ministers as its members. They are Janardhan Dwivedi, Digvijay Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Mukul Wasnik, Renuka Choudhary, Sandeep Dikshit and Manish Tewari.

It also has a small subgroup having Pachouri, Bansal, Ramesh and Sandeep Dikshit.

Tom Vaddakkan has again been made the Secretary of the Media Department while Janardhan Dwivedi continues as its Chairman.

Karan Singh remains the head the party's Foreign Affairs Department with Anand Sharma as its Vice Chairman and Manish Tewari as Secretary.

Major (Retd) Ved Prakash has been made Chairman of the Ex Serviceman Department with Praveen Dabar as its Secretary.

Vishwajeet Prasad Singh continues to be the in-charge of the Computer Department while Archana Dalmia is the incharge of the Grievance Cell.

There are no major changes in the allocation of work to the General Secretaries and CWC in-charges of the states.

(Agencies)