NEW DELHI: The average age in the newly-formed 84-member Congress Working Committee under party chief Mallikarjun Kharge is 61 years, with the eldest member being former prime minister Manmohan Singh at 90.
The youngest in the CWC is 31-year-old Neeraj Kundan, who is an ex-officio member of the body as the president of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of the party.
The Congress has failed to fulfil its promise of having 50 per cent of people below the age of 50 years made in its Udaipur declaration but has maintained 66.6 per cent reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women as promised during its Raipur plenary session.
An analysis of the decision-making body of the Congress party reveals that it has 12 members of the Scheduled Castes, four from Scheduled Tribes, 16 from other backward classes, nine among minorities and 15 women, besides 43 general category people.
There are 21 ‘youth’ members around the age of 50 years like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sachin Pilot, Deepender Hooda, Meenakshi Natrajan, Praniti Shinde, Supriya Shrinate, B V Srinivas, Alka Lamba, Phulo Devi Netam and Gurdeep Sappal, the party leaders claim.
However, a detailed analysis of the age of all the 39 regular members reveals that the average age is around 66 years, which leaders say is high as some from the old guard like former prime minister Manmohan Singh, A K Antony, Ambika Soni and others had to be accommodated keeping in mind their vast political experience.
Among the regular members, while Singh is the eldest at 90 years, Gourav Gogoi, the party’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha and son of former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, is the youngest at 40 years.
Kanhaiya Kumar, 36, has also been included in the CWC among the permanent invitees as he is in-charge of the NSUI.
The Congress had during the Udaipur plenary, where the presidency of Mallikarjun Kharge was ratified, promised to provide 50 per cent reservation for youths at all levels of the party including its top body the CWC.
Also, it was decided to have a 50 per cent reservation in the expanded CWC for SCs/STs/OBCs/Minorities and women.
There are 14 per cent SCs, five per cent STs, 19 per cent Other Backward Classes, 11 per cent minorities and 18 per cent women in the CWC body which includes permanent members, special invitees and the in-charges of various states and heads of front organisations of the party.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who is himself 81 years old, has attempted a fine balancing act by ensuring a blend of young and old leaders and giving space to dissident voices who have in the past raised questions on the party leadership.
He included Shashi Tharoor who contested against him for the Congress chief’s post, even though his elevation as a regular member has been objected to strongly by senior Congressmen like Ramesh Chennithala in Kerala, under whom Tharoor had joined.
The CWC includes several leaders from poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, where assembly elections are due shortly followed by the crucial Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
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.
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.
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.
Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma and Tharoor, 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.
Source: Press Trust of India