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Rahul Gandhi sets up his CWC, leaves out veterans Digvijaya Singh and Janardhan Dwivedi

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The new Congress Working Committee will meet on 22 July to strategise on the party’s future plans.

New Delhi: With less than a year to go for general elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday constituted the new Congress Working Committee from which he dropped veterans Digvijaya Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath, Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh.

Gandhi was authorised to set up his CWC — the party’s highest decision-making body — in March at the party plenary in Delhi. The new committee has 51 members —  23 members, 19 permanent invitees and 9 special invitees — compared to the 36 members in the previous CWC.

The first meeting of the new CWC will be held on 22 July to chalk out the party’s strategy. The 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 Changes

Although many party veterans have been dropped, Gandhi has tried to accommodate some of the old guard while also making space for new leaders. Most of the young leaders who rose to prominence in the party have been named in the permanent invitee and special invitee list. The move signifies a shift towards youth leadership, but Gandhi, by retaining part of the old guard, has carried out what he said at the party plenary — that he will move forward with the experience of the old and the energy of the youth.

Veteran leaders such as Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Mohan Prakash, Sushil Kumar Shinde, B.K. Hariprasad, Madhusudan Mistry and C.P. Joshi have been removed from the main CWC body. These leaders have been replaced by Tarun Gogoi, Siddaramaiah, Kumari Selja, Avinash Pande, Raghuveer Meena, Gaikhangnam, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Harish Rawat.

The number of permanent invitees has increased to 15 from 10, but barring P Chidambaram, no one from the previous CWC has made the cut. Veterans such as Karan Singh, M.L. Fotedar, M.V. Rajshekharan, Mohsina Kidwai, Oscar Fernandes, R.K. Dhawan and others have been removed and new leaders have been given representation in the extended CWC.

Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit has been accommodated in the permanent invitee group.  Some of the young faces include Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, R.P.N. Singh, Jitendra Singh, Randeep Surjewala and Rajiv Satav — all first-timers.

The special invitee list too is a longer one this time, up from three to nine. None of the older leaders find place on it while the young satraps include Deepender Hooda, Jitin Prasada, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Arun Yadav among others.

Apart from these three groups, the heads of all the frontal organisations of the Congress and leaders holding independent charge of states will be ex-officio permanent or special invitee to the CWC.

Gandhi has included all former Congress chief ministers — Ashok Gehlot, Oomen Chandy, Tarun Gogoi, Siddharamaiah and Harish Rawat and Sheila Dixit. But two names — former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh — did not find a place in the CWC.

Harish Rawat has also been made the party general secretary in-charge of Assam affairs.

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  1. Some of those dropped date back to the emergency. The average age probably ought to be seven, eight years younger. Longevity has increased, true, but people should take up golf or gardening in their golden years.

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