Two close allies of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao have been made party bosses of Henan and Jiangsu provinces in the latest reshuffle before the National People's Congress in March. Xinhua yesterday said Henan governor Li Keqiang, 47, had been appointed the province's party secretary, replacing Chen Kuiyuan. Nanjing city party chief Li Yuanchao, 52, has replaced Hui Liangyu as Jiangsu party boss. Both were groomed in the Communist Youth League - a power base of Mr Hu. Sources said Mr Hui, 58, a new member of the elite 24-member Politburo, would become a vice-premier overseeing agriculture. Mr Chen, 62, will be appointed president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a central government think-tank. Li Keqiang's appointment as Henan party boss came as a surprise as he was previously viewed as a strong candidate to be promoted to the central government. Analysts said his appointment as the No 1 leader in the nation's most populous province, as well as the appointment of Li Yuanchao as the party boss of China's economic powerhouse Jiangsu, are signs that Mr Hu is consolidating his influence in the regions. Li Keqiang, an Anhui native, is one of the youngest provincial party secretaries in China. He trained as an economist at Beijing University and started his political career as secretary of the university's Communist Youth League. He was made secretariat of the league's central committee in 1985, when Mr Hu headed the league's secretariat. In 1993, he was appointed president of the Chinese Youth Political Academy, under the league. He headed the secretariat of the league's central committee from 1993 to 1998 before being appointed vice-party boss of Henan in June 1998. Li Yuanchao was appointed party boss of Nanjing city in Jiangsu only last year. A Jiangsu native and a graduate of mathematics from Shanghai Fudan University, Mr Li has a diverse portfolio. He started his political career as deputy secretary of the Shanghai branch of the Communist Youth League and was promoted to the central secretariat of the league. He also worked for the central government's State Information Office and later was promoted to vice-minister of culture. In 2000, he was transferred to Jiangsu and appointed deputy party boss of the province - where he was in charge of Jiangsu's agriculture sector - a year before he was appointed as Nanjing party boss. Mr Hui is one of the few central leaders with training and solid experience in agriculture. A graduate of the Jilin Agricultural Institute, Mr Hui worked his way up from the grassroots governments and agricultural authorities in Jilin. He was formerly vice party secretary of Hubei and party boss of Anhui province. Mr Chen's replacement of Li Tieying as CASS president will allow him to get around the requirement that regional leaders retire at 65. Mr Chen was party boss of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibet Military Region before being made Henan party boss in 2000.