OBC leader to youth Congress’s ex-president: The new faces in CWC
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) has included new faces such as OBC leader Kamaleshwar Patel and former MP Meenakshi Natarajan
An other backward classes (OBC) leader from the Kurmi community, a former parliamentarian from Madhya Pradesh, a former Delhi lawmaker who returned to the Congress from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a former head of Rajya Sabha TV, and a legislator who was one of the first youth Congress presidents to be elected under a plan of Rahul Gandhi to promote young people were some of the new faces included in the Congress working committee (CWC) on Sunday.
Also read: Congress expands CWC, adds ex-‘G23’ rebels
While a number of top Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh didn’t find space in the revamped CWC, Kamaleshwar Patel, a former minister in the Kamal Nath government, was included in the main body of the committee.
Patel -- a Kurmi leader in Madhya Pradesh and a young MLA from the Sinhawal constituency -- entered the top executive body after the party announced quotas for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, OBC, women and minorities in CWC. Last month, Patel was in the news for launching an indefinite protest with many tribals to demand action against Pravesh Shukla, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader who urinated on a tribal person.
Another entrant, former MP Meenakshi Natarajan, hogged the limelight in 2009 when she defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Mandsaur, a seat the Congress never won since 1971. Natarajan got the seat as part of Rahul Gandhi’s plan to field young candidates in seats where the Congress didn’t win for a long time. Born in Madhya Pradesh, Natarajan remains active in Mandsaur despite her electoral defeat in 2014.
“She is among the important women leaders in MP. She also got rewarded possibly because the party needs to strengthen its MP organisation,” a leader involved in the process said, declining to be named.
Another new face was Gurdeep Sappal. When Hamid Asari was vice-president, Sappal led Rajya Sabha TV as well as remained a joint secretary in Ansari’s office. Credited for the deft handling of logistics for the party, Sappal is in charge of administration, and is one of the five party leaders handpicked to work in the Congress president’s office after Mallikarjun Kharge took charge last year. Sappal and Sayed Naser Hussain are two leaders part of Kharge’s core team to be included in the CWC on Sunday.
Soon after Rahul Gandhi became general secretary in charge of National Students’ Union of India and Youth Congress, he started elections in these two organisations. While it remains debatable how much the party benefitted from holding these exercises, Vamshi Chand Reddy was one of the first Youth Congress presidents to be elected. Reddy is now a Telangana lawmaker. Last month, he was included in the 29-member election committee of Telangana Congress.
The state will face assembly polls later this year.
Many Delhi workers remember Alka Lamba as one of the leaders who protested outside Sonia Gandhi’s residence in 2004 to demand the latter becomes Prime Minister. Years later, she quit the Congress and joined the AAP. Under AAP rule, Lamba became chairperson of the Delhi Commission of Women. In 2018, she quit the commission and later returned to the Congress. She is considered one of the staunchest anti-AAP faces of the Congress in Delhi.
While a number of new leaders were included in the CWC, a few party insiders remained upset about exclusions. “Not including a single chief minister in CWC sends a wrong signal. Also, there are more capable women leaders who have been left out,” a second leader involved in reshuffle said, seeking anonymity. “It is clear from the list that some names were added as they were part of the lobby of important functionaries in Delhi.”
Get Current Updates on India News, Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world