Seven months after he took over as party president, Rahul Gandhi Tuesday reconstituted the Congress Working Committee, its top policy-making body. Abandoning mother Sonia Gandhi’s cautious approach, he has opted for a blend of the young and old — Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada and Deepender Hooda are among those who have been inducted while veterans like Digvijaya Singh, C P Joshi, Janardan Dwivedi, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Oscar Fernandes have been shown the door.
None of the three Congress chief ministers find place in the CWC. Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh too remain unrepresented.
Rahul Gandhi has also expanded the CWC, increasing the number of permanent and special invitees. The strength of the new body is 51 — 23 main members, 18 permanent invitees and 10 special invitees.
These are the key takeaways from the CWC reshuffle:
* Several veterans out: Among them Digvijaya Singh, C P Joshi, Janardan Dwivedi, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Oscar Fernandes, Mohan Prakash, Karan Singh, B K Hariprasad, M Veerappa Moily and Mohsina Kidwai. While some like Singh, Dwivedi, Prakash and Hariprasad are no longer general secretaries, Joshi remains a general secretary in charge of north-eastern states minus Assam. Sources said Joshi could become head of the Congress’s campaign committee in Rajasthan.
* Infusion of new blood: While Scindia has been brought in as a permanent invitee, former Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav, former Union minister Jitin Prasada, Lok Sabha MP Deepender Hooda and Haryana leader Kuldeep Vishnoi have been inducted as special invitees. Hopefuls like Jairam Ramesh and Salman Khurshid have been left out. This is a departure from the past because Sonia Gandhi had shied away from inducting new blood.
* Present and former chief ministers: None of the chief ministers of the Congress — Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, Puducherry’s V Narayanasamy and Mizoram’s Lal Thanhawla — have been inducted. Singh was a permanent invitee earlier. While former chief ministers Tarun Gogoi, Siddaramaiah and Sheila Dikshit find place along with Harish Rawat and Oommen Chandy, who is an AICC general secretary, the omission of Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan, Virbhadra Singh has come as a surprise. Rawat was appointed general secretary Tuesday and given charge of Assam, replacing Joshi.
* Blend of old and young: The new members are a mix of young and old leaders. In other words, many of those considered close to Sonia as well as those with proximity to Rahul find place. The new members include veterans like Gogoi, Siddaramaiah, Kumari Selja, Raghuveer Meena, Tamradhwaj Sahu and former Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei.
* Several states unrepresented: Key states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, West Bengal and Goa are unrepresented. These states together have 121 Lok Sabha seats.
* Women representation: The Congress wants 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. Rahul Gandhi has often spoken about empowerment of women and giving them more representation in the organisation. But only three women — Sonia Gandhi, Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja — find place in the 23-member main CWC. Dikshit, Asha Kumari, Rajni Patil and Sushmita Dev are among the permanent and special invitees. While Kumari and Patil are AICC in-charges, Dev is president of Mahila Congress. They are in the CWC by virtue of their posts.
* Minority representation: Only three Muslims have been included in the CWC. They are Ghulam Nabi Azad and Tariq Hameed Karra, both from Kashmir, and Ahmed Patel. On the other hand, Dalits have better representation in the form of Mallikarjun Kharge, Selja, Mukul Wasnik and P L Punia.
* Eye on Assembly elections: The induction of Raghuveer Meena from Rajasthan, Arun Yadav and Scindia from Madhya Pradesh and Tamradhwaj Sahu from Chhattisgarh show that the forthcoming Assembly elections have been factored. Sahu is Lok Sabha MP from Durg and head of the party’s OBC department. The first meeting of the new CWC has been convened on July 22.
* Independent in-charges appointed for various states have been made permanent invitees to the working committee as ex-officio members while heads of five frontal organisations of the party — INTUC, Sewa Dal, Indian Youth Congress, Mahila Congress and NSUI — have been brought in as special invitees
* The CWC was dissolved in February and the earlier panel was transformed into a steering committee for holding the party’s plenary session that concluded in March. Senior leader Anand Sharma was inducted into the steering committee then and has now been inducted as member of the CWC.
* The members of the new CWC are: Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Oommen Chandy, Tarun Gogoi, Siddaramaiah, Anand Sharma, Harish Rawat, Kumari Selja, Mukul Wasnik, Avinash Pande, K C Venugopal, Dipak Babaria, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Raghuveer Meena, Gaikhangam and Ashok Gehlot.
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