NEW DELHI: Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday reconstituted the CWC, retaining the old guard, giving space to the young and including prominent G23 group leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Anand Sharma, who were critical of the party leadership in the past, in the 84-member top decision-making body of the party.
The all-important Congress Working Committee, formed 10 months after Kharge took charge after defeating Tharoor, has 39 regular members, 32 permanent invitees and 13 special invitees. These include 15 women and several new faces below the age of 50 like Sachin Pilot and Gourav Gogoi who are among the regular members.
While Kanhaiya Kumar and Deepender Hooda have been named among the permanent invitees, the special invitees include Supriya Shrinate, Pawan Khera, Praniti Shinde and Alka Lamba.
Hon'ble Congress President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge has constituted the Congress Working Committee, as mentioned below: pic.twitter.com/CaH3fomhol
— INC Sandesh (@INCSandesh) August 20, 2023
Former Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Himachal Congress chief Pratibha Singh, who recently backed the government’s push for Uniform Civil Code, also find a place among permanent invitees along with G23 leader Veerappa Moily.
The regular members of the CWC include Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Manmohan Singh, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, A K Antony, Ambika Soni, Meira Kumar, Digvijaya Singh, P Chidambaram, Tariq Anwar, Lal Thanhawala, Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma, Ashokrao Chavan, Ajay Maken and Kumari Selja, according to the party statement.
The Congress had amended its constitution at the Plenary session held in Raipur earlier this year to provide for 50 per cent reservation in the working committee for SCs, STs, OBCs, women, youth and minorities. It had also raised the number of CWC members from 23 to 35.
The CWC will now include the former prime ministers from the party and the former AICC chiefs, besides leaders of the Congress in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma and Tharoor, who were part of the group of 23 dissident leaders who had written to then Congress president Sonia Gandhi and had raised questions on the party’s leadership, are among the regular members of the new CWC.
Sachin Pilot, who rebelled against the party’s government in Rajasthan in 2020 and kept waving a flag of rebellion against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, has been made a regular member.
Anandpur Sahib MP from Punjab Manish Tewari who was also a G23 member and has always spoken his mind on key issues of national importance has been made permanent invitee.
Prominent exclusions in the new CWC include ex-MP from Rajasthan Raghuveer Singh Meena, Jai Prakash Aggarwal, Dinesh Gundu Rao, H K Patil, K H Muniappa, P L Punia, Pramod Tiwari and Raghu Sharma.
Gundu Rao, Muniappa and Patil have since become ministers in the Congress government in Karnataka.
The CWC also includes presidents of the Youth Congress, the National Students’ Union of India, the Mahila Congress and the Seva Dal as ex-officio members.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashokrao Chavan, N Raghuveera Reddy, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Deepa Das Munshi, Syed Naseer Hussain, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, G A Mir, Gourav Gogoi and Jagdish Thakore are among the new additions in the CWC as regular members.
Among the new CWC permanent invitees are Harish Rawat, Pawan Bansal, Ramesh Chennithala, Kanhaiya Kumar, Mohan Prakash, K Raju, Chandrakant Handore, Meenakshi Natarajan, Phulo Devi Netam, Sudeep Roy Burman, Damodar Raja Narasimha, Gurdeep Sappal and Sachin Rao.
Those included as special invitees are former Union minister Pallam Raju, besides Pawan Khera, Ganesh Godiyal, Kodikkunil Suresh, Yashomati Thakur, Supriya Shrinate, Praniti Shinde, Alka Lamba and Vamshi Chand Reddy.
The new CWC, which replaces the Steering Committee that was formed as a stop-gap arrangement after Kharge became the party president on October 10 last year, has been announced as the principal opposition party prepares for a crucial round of assembly polls in the coming months and the 2024 general elections.
The last time the Congress Working Committee was reconstituted was on September 11, 2020 under Sonia Gandhi’s presidentship. This is the first Working Committee formed under Mallikarjun Kharge’s presidency.
The new working committee has been formed after several rounds of deliberations.
There are, however, only 15 women in the 84-member body, including six general members, four permanent invitees and five special invitees.
In a crucial election year when Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram will go to polls followed by Lok Sabha elections in 2024, Kharge has attempted a fine balancing act by ensuring a blend of young and old leaders and giving space to dissident voices by including Tharoor who contested against Kharge for the Congress chief’s post.
The G23 leaders had batted for organisational overhaul going to the extent of suggesting an active full-time party leadership in apparent jibes at Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Gaikhangam, N Raghuveera Reddy, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Abhishek Singhvi, Salman Khurshid, Jairam Ramesh, Jitendra Singh, Randeep Surjewala, Deepak Babaria, Jagdish Thakore, G S Mir, Avinash Pande, Deepa Das Munshi, Mahendrajeet Singh Malviya, Syed Naseer Hussain, Kamaleshwar Patel and K C Venugopal are also among members of the new CWC.
Source: Press Trust of India