Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday announced the reconstituted Congress Working Committee (CWC), in one of his biggest decisive measures since he took over the chair, with a focus on backward classes and minorities, as well as enhanced participation of women and youth.
In what is seen as a big move for the upcoming election season, the top decision-making body of Congress has a total of six OBC (Other Backward Castes) leaders now against just one in the previous committee and nine Scheduled Caste leaders. Kharge has also included a tribal leader on the new list with Rajasthan minister Mahendrajeet Malviya.
Another Rajasthan minister who was promoted to the apex decision-making body as a youth icon is Sachin Pilot, who has been in a turf war with chief minister Ashok Gehlot for many months and rebelled against the party leadership in Rajasthan in 2020. The western state goes to polls later this year.
Speaking to The Times Of India, a Congress leader anonymously said that the committee was a “determined projection of pro-poor, pro-backward classes leadership” besides having a mix of experienced and “GenNext” leaders.
The Congress had in February, at the Plenary session held in Raipur, amended its constitution to provide a 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), women, youngsters and minorities in its working committee. The CWC was also amended to include former prime ministers and former AICC chiefs.
The representation, while appreciated, is however not anywhere close to the reservation given. There are also only 15 women in the 84-member body, including six general members, four permanent invitees and five special invitees.
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.
In a year when Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram will go to polls, followed by the crucial 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.
Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma and Shashi Tharoor, who were part of the group of 23 dissident leaders (G23) who had written to then Congress president Sonia Gandhi raising questions on the party's leadership, are also among the regular members of the new CWC. They 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.
Tharoor also contested against Kharge for the Congress president post.
The new working committee has been formed after several rounds of deliberations. The last time the committee was revamped was in September 2020 under Sonia Gandhi's presidency.