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Congress expands CWC, adds ex-‘G23’ rebels

By, New Delhi
Aug 21, 2023 03:52 AM IST

The CWC now has 39 members, up from 25, and includes quotas for youth, SCs, STs, OBCs, and women.

In a significant reshuffle of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), party chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday inducted at least 20 new faces including parliamentarians Shashi Tharoor, Gaurav Gogoi and Manish Tewari, and former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot in the top executive body ahead of key assembly polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge along with party leaders Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal.(Congress Twitter)
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge along with party leaders Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal.(Congress Twitter)

In the latest organisational rejig, a number of prominent young leaders have been elevated, erstwhile rebels — including those from the now-defunct G23 — have been given due prominence and veterans and loyalists have been rewarded in a balancing act.

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Read here: Mallikarjun Kharge plays delicate balancing act in CWC rejig before 2024 polls

The long-awaited reshuffle, ten months after Kharge became the Congress president, “has been able to send across a message of unity in the poll-bound organisation,” claimed a newly elected CWC member. “Kharge has signalled he wants to take everyone along with him.”

The main CWC now has 39 members, up from 25 in the previous avatar. It also has 32 permanent invitees, including some in-charges of state, and 13 special invitees. A total of 84 leaders are in the top executive body.

The expansion was due to the roll-out of the quota for youth, SCs, STs, OBCs and women in the top executive body. But the main CWC has only three members below the age of 50.

Tharoor fought against Kharge for the party’s presidential election last year and has been nominated in the revamped CWC. In 1999, then Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had shown a similar gesture to Jitendra Prasada after he contested against her and got defeated.

“I am honoured by the decision of the @INCIndia President Shri Mallikarjun @Kharge ji and the Congress central leadership to nominate me to the Working Committee. As one who is aware of the historic role played by the CWC in guiding the party over the last 138 years, I am humbled and grateful to be part of this institution, and look forward to the opportunity to serve the party alongside my dedicated colleagues,” Tharoor tweeted.

“None of us can accomplish anything without the lakhs of committed workers who are the lifeblood of the party. Today, above all, I bow to them. The countless Indians who seek a more inclusive and accepting India deserve the best from us,” he added.

The inclusion of former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot assumes significance ahead of the election in the state. According to a second senior leader, “Pilot’s elevation comes as a part of a peace plan to ensure the party factions in the state fight unitedly in the upcoming poll.”

“I express my gratitude to respected Congress President Mr Mallikarjun Kharge, CPP Chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi and former President Mr Rahul Gandhi for making me a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC). We all will strengthen the customs and ideology of the Congress and take it more strongly to the people,” Pilot said.

Gaurav Gogoi, who initiated the no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha on August 8, has been promoted after the Congress lost two consecutive assembly polls in Assam and one of its key leaders — current Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sharma — had quit the party.

This is the first major organisational reshuffle by Kharge, who became the first non-Gandhi party chief in past 23 years. In the Raipur AICC plenary, the party had decided to introduce quotas for SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, women and youth. The party had also ruled out any election of the CWC and Kharge was entrusted with nominating all the CWC members.

Former G23 leader Anand Sharma has been retained in the CWC. Similarly, Tharoor, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari, M Veerappa Moily, Mukul Wasnik are also part of the CWC.

“You must remember that all existing G23 leaders had supported Kharge’s candidature in the party poll. Today’s decision underlines that the old rebellion is seen as a closed chapter,” said the first leader.

Former Lok Sabha lawmaker Deepa Dasmunshi, Karnataka MP Nasir Hussain, former J&K unit chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Jagdish Thakor of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh minister Tamradhwaj Sahu, Delhi in charge Dipak Babaria, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh Congress leader Raghuveera Reddy and Madhya Pradesh lawmaker Kamleshwar Patel are among the new members of the expanded CWC.

Former Congress chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh have been automatically included. Veterans such as former CM Digvijaya Singh and former Union minister P Chidambaram — both were earlier permanent invitees — have been brought in the main CWC.

Gurdeep Sappal, Nasir Hussain, Kanhaiya Kumar, Supriya Shrinate, Manickam Tagore, Alka Lamba, Priniti Shinde, and GA Mir are among the new entrants in the expanded CWC.

Prominent exclusions in the new CWC include ex-MP from Rajasthan Raghuveer Singh Meena, Jai Prakash Aggarwal, Dinesh Gundu Rao, HK Patil, K H Muniappa, PL Punia, Pramod Tiwari and Raghu Sharma. Gundu Rao, Muniappa and Patil have since become ministers in the Congress government in Karnataka.

Former Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Pratibha Singh have also been included in the important panel, according to a Congress statement.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashokrao Chavan, N Raghuveera Reddy, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya are among the new additions in the CWC as regular members.

Among the new CWC permanent invitees are Kanhaiya Kumar, Mohan Prakash, K Raju, Chandrakant Handore, Meenakshi Natarajan, Phulo Devi Netam, Sudeep Roy Burman, Damodar Raja Narasimha, Gurdeep Sappal and Sachin Rao.

Read here: Upcoming assembly elections in 5 states key focus of CWC reshuffle

Those also included as special invitees are former Union minister Pallam Raju, besides Pawan Khera, Ganesh Godiyal, Kodikkunil Suresh, Yashomati Thakur, Supriya Shrinate, Priniti Shinde, Alka Lamba and Vamshi Chand Reddy.

The CWC, the state in-charges and other senior functionaries have their task cut out. The party faces elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram before it launches the campaign for the 2024 elections. The Congress has formed an INDIA alliance with 26 like-minded parties but the party is desperately looking at improving its strike rate in the seven states where it is in a direct fight with the BJP.

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