Six OBC, nine SCs & key tribal neta in Team Kharge
The apex decision-making body is packed with veterans as well as young “field politicians” across states like Sachin Pilot, Gaurav Gogoi, Jitendra Singh, Yashomati Thakur, Manickam Tagore, Praniti Shinde, Kamleshwar Patel, Vamshi Chand Reddy, Alka Lamba, Kanhaiya Kumar, Supriya Shrinate and 61-year-old, seven-term LS MP Kodikkunil Suresh of Kerala and young RS MP Naseer Hussain.
Importantly, Shashi Tharoor, who fought the presidential poll against Kharge, has been given a seat at the main table — a matter of speculation for months.
Team Kharge comprises six OBC faces as against just one in the last body, while it has nine SCs and a “promising” tribal leader in Rajasthan minister Mahendrajeet Malviya. “The committee is a determined projection of pro-poor, pro-backward classes leadership, besides being a mix of experienced heads and the GenNext,” a top party member said. What is sure to attract attention is that ex-deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, a leading light of the dissident group G23, has been retained in the committee, while Punjab MP and G23 member Manish Tewari is a fresh inclusion.
Congress Working Committee undergoes revamp ahead of elections
CWC forms a core of regional satraps in Ashok Chavan of Maharashtra, Pratibha Singh of Himachal Pradesh, Ajay Maken of Delhi, former CM Charanjit Channi of Punjab, Mizoram face Lal Thanhawala, Jagdish Thakor of Gujarat, Ramesh Chennithala of Kerala, Ghulam Ahmed Mir of J&K, Ganesh Godiyal of Uttarakhand and Deepa Dasmunsi of Bengal.
Poll calculations have weighed considerably on the composition too. The addition of ex-deputy CM Damodar Raja Narsimha, a Madiga Dalit from Telangana, is viewed as a choice driven by coming assembly elections, given that Mala sub-group forms Congress support base. Strategists have urged the party for an outreach to the Madigas. Elections are also the reason behind the elevation of Tamradhwaj Sahu, senior OBC minister from Chhattisgarh, whose community is seen as tilted more towards BJP, and Malviya from Rajasthan.
The new CWC has 39 members in the main body as against 25 in the past, given that the Raipur plenary decided to give a permanent seat to former party chiefs (Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi), and former PMs (Manmohan Singh) as also leaders in Lok Sabha (Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury) and Rajya Sabha (Kharge). The party decided to increase the strength to also accommodate the policy resolution that 50% of members in the panels should be below 50 years and from SC/ST/OBC/Women/Minorities. There are 18 permanent invitees, 14 AICC state-incharges and nine special invitees. Besides, four ex-officio members include Youth Congress chief Srinivas B V, NSUI chief Neeraj Kundan, Mahila Congress president Netta D’souza and chief organiser of Sevadal Lalji Desai.
The party could accommodate only three leaders below 50 years in the main body, but they have been inducted in other categories. K Raju, Rahul Gandhi confidant, has also been included. Well-placed sources said veterans Antony and Ambika Soni have been persuaded to stay, as the two had expressed a desire to “retire”. “Keeping them at the advisory table is important for an institutionalised party like Congress,” a member said. After Kharge was elected Congress chief in October 2022, CWC was trimmed and converted into a ‘steering committee’, as laid down in the party constitution.
Among those left out are Raghuveer Singh Meena, J P Aggarwal, Dinesh Gundu Rao, H K Patil, K H Muniappa, P L Punia, Pramod Tiwari and Raghu Sharma.