Congress gets battle ready - Hindustan Times
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Congress gets battle ready

ByHT Editorial
Aug 21, 2023 09:02 PM IST

CWC reshuffle aims to strike a balance ahead of polls that will determine the party’s future

Balance. That appears to be at the core of the significant reshuffle in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) over the weekend, months after party president Mallikarjun Kharge took charge. Mr Kharge decided to expand the party’s top body, with an eye not only on fulfilling some of the long-pending resolutions passed in Udaipur last year, but also on a clutch of crucial polls that will determine the contours of the Opposition arrangement in taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As a result, the main CWC now has 39 members, up from 25 in the previous avatar. It also has 32 permanent invitees and 13 special invitees. The first balancing act is between the old guard and the new faces. Mr Kharge inducted at least 20 new faces, aiming to fulfil the Udaipur resolve of mandating 50% members under 50. The new members included Gaurav Gogoi, Kanhaiya Kumar and Alka Lamba. But the main CWC has only three members below the age cut-off. Among the old guard, AK Antony, Digvijaya Singh and P Chidambaram were the prominent names retained.

The Congress party will now have to project cohesion and purpose if it wants to put up a credible challenge.(Congress Twitter) PREMIUM
The Congress party will now have to project cohesion and purpose if it wants to put up a credible challenge.(Congress Twitter)

Balance. That appears to be at the core of the significant reshuffle in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) over the weekend, months after party president Mallikarjun Kharge took charge. Mr Kharge decided to expand the party’s top body, with an eye not only on fulfilling some of the long-pending resolutions passed in Udaipur last year, but also on a clutch of crucial polls that will determine the contours of the Opposition arrangement in taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As a result, the main CWC now has 39 members, up from 25 in the previous avatar. It also has 32 permanent invitees and 13 special invitees. The first balancing act is between the old guard and the new faces. Mr Kharge inducted at least 20 new faces, aiming to fulfil the Udaipur resolve of mandating 50% members under 50. The new members included Gaurav Gogoi, Kanhaiya Kumar and Alka Lamba. But the main CWC has only three members below the age cut-off. Among the old guard, AK Antony, Digvijaya Singh and P Chidambaram were the prominent names retained.

The second balancing act was between those considered loyal to the Gandhi family and a clutch of leaders who raised questions about the functioning of the party in a letter to then party chief Sonia Gandhi three years ago. Former G23 leader Anand Sharma was retained. Similarly, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari were also included. The public squabbles between the so-called G23 (some prominent members such as Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal have left the party) and Gandhi family loyalists over the past couple of years had created an impression of a party in disarray. With the appointments, Mr Kharge is signalling that as far as he is concerned, G23 is a closed chapter.

The third is between rival groups in key states that go to the polls. The inclusion of Rajasthan’s former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and Madhya Pradesh lawmaker Kamleshwar Patel is aimed at sending a signal that all is well in the local units in provinces the Congress is desperate to win. In Chhattisgarh, too, the induction of state-in-charge Kumari Selja, lawmaker Phulo Devi Netam, and state minister Tamradhwaj Sahu will be important in staving off the BJP’s charge, especially as the latter tries to hive off chunks of the backward vote from the Congress. With just months to go for the 2024 polls, the reshuffle shows that the Congress is getting battle ready. An organisational change is only the first step on this road. The party will now have to project cohesion and purpose if it wants to put up a credible challenge.

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