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Congress’s balancing act: Advisory panel for seniors, 50% representation for young leaders

Udaipur Declaration includes a suggestion to reserve half the poll tickets, 2024 LS elections onwards, for those below 50 years

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: May 16, 2022 7:37:57 am
Congress, Chintan Shivir, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, CWC meeting, Congress leadership, BJP’s Hindutva push, Political Pulse, indian expressWith the decision to reserve half the posts at different organisational levels for those younger than 50, the CWC will see the exit of some of the veteran leaders. (Express Photo)

The Congress’s decision to set up an “advisory group” of senior leaders drawn from the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to assist the party president and provide 50 per cent representation to those below 50 years at all organisational levels, including the CWC, is being seen by insiders as a balancing act by the Gandhis to keep both veterans and young leaders happy.

The Udaipur Declaration adopted following the party’s three-day brainstorming conclave in the city in Rajasthan includes a suggestion by its youth panel to reserve half the posts in Congress governments in the future for those under 50 years. The same criterion also has to be applied while selecting poll candidates, starting with the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

The Declaration also mentions the youth panel’s suggestion to have a “retirement age” for all “elected posts”, including in Parliament, Assemblies, and Legislative Councils.

“I have also decided to have an advisory group drawn from the CWC that would meet regularly under my chairpersonship to discuss and deliberate upon political issues and challenges before our party,” Gandhi said on Sunday. “Of course, we do have the CWC that meets from time to time and that will continue. The new group is not, however, a collective decision-making body but will help me get the benefit of the vast experience of senior colleagues.”

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With the decision to reserve half the posts at different organisational levels for those younger than 50, the CWC will see the exit of some of the veteran leaders. But the party is hard-pressed since young leaders are pushing to be given a seat at the table and there is a demand for fresh faces at all levels to give the party a “youthful look”. At the same time, the Gandhis do not want the veterans to feel ignored as it could breed resentment.

With the Congress president emphasising that the advisory group — it is not mentioned in the party constitution and can be wound up any day — is not a “collective decision-making body”, it is being interpreted as a snub to the G-23 group of dissident leaders who have been pushing for collective decision-making as one of the reform measures.

In her speech, Sonia Gandhi made a special mention of the recommendations of the group on organisational reforms, which was one of the six panels that convened at the conclave. “I want to make a special mention of the report of the organisational group since it is the most immediately relevant. Some of its ideas have formed part of the Udaipur Nav Sankalp Declaration that has just been adopted. I assure you that the detailed recommendations of the group will be acted upon expeditiously,” she added.

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