New Delhi, July 17 (PTI): Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday constituted the Congress Working Committee and dropped veterans Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath, Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh from the party’s highest decision-making body.
In the working committee named a few months after he took over as Congress chief, Gandhi banked, however, included other veterans like A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma and Kumari Selja.
The new Congress Working Committee (CWC) includes 23 members, 19 permanent invitees and 9 special invitees. He has also convened the first meeting of the extended CWC on July 22 to chalk out the party’s future strategy. The meeting will include all state unit presidents and Congress Legislative Party leaders from states.
Besides himself, former party Chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gandhi has included all former Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot, Oomen Chandy, Tarun Gogoi, Siddharamaiah and Harish Rawat.
Rawat has also been made the party general secretary in-charge of Assam affairs. Other prominent exclusions are Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who was earlier a permanent invitee to the body, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh and party veterans Mohan Prakash, Oscar Fernandes, C P Joshi and Mohsina Kidwai. However, Hooda’s son Deepender Singh has been made a special invitee.
Gandhi’s new CWC team, the names of which were released by party general secretary Ashok Gehlot, has a blend of old and new leaders. Though it signifies a shift towards youth leadership, the old guard has not been completely left out as Gandhi had himself said at the party’s plenary session that he will move forward with the experience of the old and the energy of the youth.
Among the new faces are Mukul Wasnik, Avinash Pande, KC Venugopal, Dipak Babaraia, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Gaikhangam and Ashok Gehlot, whom he has also made party general secretaries.
The permanent invitees include former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, P Chidambaram, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Randeep Surjewala, Balasaheb Thorat, Tariq Hameed Karra and P C Chacko.
The new Congress chief has also included all AICC secretaries in-charge of different states – Jitendra Singh, RPN Singh, PL Punia, Asha Kumari, Rajni Patil, Ram Chandra Khuntia, Anugrah Narayan Singh, Rajeev S Satav, Shaktisinh Gohil, Gaurav Gogoi and A Chella Kumar – as permanent invitees. However, they will only be ex-officio members of the panel.
Among the special invitees to the CWC include KH Muniyappa, Arun Yadav, Deepender Hooda, Jitin Prasada and Kuldeep Bishnoi.
Besides chiefs of party’s frontal organisations INTUC, Seva Dal, Youth Congress, Mahila Congress and NSUI have also been included as ex-officio special invitees and they will also be ex-officio members.
The July 22 meeting will be of an ‘extended working committee’ as Gandhi has also invited all state unit presidents and Congress Legislative Party leaders from states.
The committee was dissolved prior to the election of the Congress president and the earlier panel was transformed into a steering committee till the party’s plenary session that concluded in March.
The CWC, which acts as an advisory panel on all key decisions of the party, was not in place since the plenary session in March.