New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday constituted the Congress Working Committee (CWC) by appointing 23 members and dropping some senior leaders in his bid to strike a balance between age and experience, and prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Prominent among those dropped from the previous CWC include Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath and Sushilkumar Shinde.
The first CWC to be constituted by Gandhi after his elevation as party chief in December last also seeks to have balance in terms of regional representation.
The first meeting of the new CWC — the party’s highest decision-making body — will be held on July 22.
The new faces in the CWC include former chief ministers Oommen Chandy (Kerala), Tarun Gogoi (Assam), Siddaramaiah (Karnataka) and Harish Rawat (Uttarakhand).
Former Union Minister Kumari Selja, party MP from Durg Tamradhwaj Sahu, former MP Raghuveer Meena and former Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam are the other new faces in the CWC.
Sahu is the only Congress MP in the Lok Sabha from Chhattisgarh where assembly polls will be held at the end of this year.
Apart from Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath and Sushilkumar Shinde, those dropped include Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Kamal Nath was earlier this year appointed chief of the party’s Madhya Pradesh unit.
C.P. Joshi, B.K. Hariprasad, Karan Singh, Oscar Fernandes, Mohan Prakash, Hemo Prova Saikia and Sushila Tiriya have also been dropped.
The new CWC does not include any of the three Congress chief ministers.
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the senior members of the new CWC that will form the core team of the party for the state elections this year and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The leaders who have been retained include Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ashok Gehlot, Motilal Vora, A.K. Antony, Amika Soni, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, Avinash Pande, K.C. Venugopal and Dipak Babaria.
There are several young faces in the 18 permanent invitees of the new CWC.
The permanent invitees include former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit; former Union Minister P. Chidambaram; party MPs Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, Rajeev Satav, Rajni Patil; former MPs Tariq Hameed Karra, P.L. Punia, P.C. Chacko, R.P.N. Singh, Jitendra Singh and Ram Chandra Khuntia; and party’s communications incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Other permanent invitees include Shaktisinh Gohil, Anugrah Narayan Singh, A. Chella Kumar, Balasaheb Thorat and Asha Kumari.
The special invitees are party leaders K.H. Muniyappa, Arun Yadav, Deepender Hooda, Jitin Prasada and Kuldeep Bishnoi, and chiefs of party’s frontal organisations apart from president of the party’s student wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI).
The CWC was announced four months after the All India Congress Committee (AICC) plenary session in March ratified the election of Gandhi as party chief and authorised him to reconstitute the party’s top decision-making body.
Ahead of the plenary, Gandhi had turned the existing CWC into a steering committee.