Mumbai, Dec 25:  In an abrupt move, the Congress on Saturday appointed Rajesh Lilothia as the new Chairman of the AICC Scheduled Caste (SC) Department.

He replaces Maharashtra Energy Minister and senior party leader Nitin Raut, according to a statement issued by AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal.

The Congress also appointed K. Raju as the Coordinator to oversee the activities of AICC SC/OBC/Minority departments and All India Adivasi Congress with immediate effect.

The AICC has not specified any reason behind the removal of Raut from the powerful post.

However, Raut sought to allay speculation over the reshuffle and claimed that the decision was expected six months ago.

“The party president has taken this (decision) today,” Raut said in a statement here.

“I was unable to travel across the country and give justice to the post as I’m a minister in Maharashtra. That’s why I requested the party president to free me from the post of president, SC department of AICC,” Raut added.

Besides, the minister pointed out that the party has a policy of ‘one person one post’.