NEW DELHI: Newly-elected Congress president, Mallikarjuna Kharge, will take charge after Diwali on Wednesday. After this, the focus will be on his team. Will Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and A.K. Antony continue to be Congress Working Committee (CWC) members? According to sources, all three are unlikely to be in the CWC after its reconstitution. Moreover, the challenges of factionalism in the Congress and the upcoming state polls are already there for Kharge to deal with.
The question is whether Kharge will be able to remove the office-bearers who have completed more than three years on the post. This is one of the resolutions in the Udaipur declaration. Perhaps, he won’t be able to do this. All eyes will be on who gets accommodated in the CWC. The tussle is already there as every single leader is keen to make it to the highest decision making body of the party. Kharge will be under pressure to include in the CWC some of the dissenters who have been active during the presidential poll. Indications are that the CWC will be reconstituted through election.
Sources say the party’s three-day plenary session may be convened in the second week of February when Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra concludes. The exact date and place will be decided by the steering committee. After the election of a new president, the CWC is converted into the steering committee. The session may take place in Rajasthan or Delhi.
The 12 members may be chosen through election to CWC. The highest body will witness an election after 25 years. Around 1,200 AICC delegates will elect the members. The elections to constitute the CWC had been held at Tirupati in 1992 and at Kolkata in 1997. After a non-Gandhi leader at the helm, this will be the third time that the CWC will see an election. No election ever took place for this body with a Gandhi family member as AICC president. Of all 25 members of CWC, 12 are nominated, while the remaining 12 are elected. The party will get AICC delegates elected in the next two months. The party may take several big and surprising decisions during the plenary session next year.
It is certain that former Congress president Sonia Gandhi will reduce her participation in party activities. Rahul Gandhi and his 12 Tughlak Lane will be the main power centre. However, the key focus is on what big changes are in the offing for the CWC. Manmohan Singh and A.K. Antony would not like to be repeated due to health reasons. Sonia Gandhi also wants to be out of the CWC. However, excluding her will not be easy for the party. Rahul Gandhi seems to have changed his mind during the yatra. Indications are that the Gandhi scion will be the high command. K.C. Venugopal cannot be removed from CWC as he is considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
The members who may be repeated in the new CWC include Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Venugopal, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, P. Chidambaram, Randeep Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh, Tariq Anwar, Avinash Pandey and Anand Sharma. The regional balance has to be ensured while constituting the CWC. Balancing women’s representation is also a challenge. It won’t, therefore, be easy for Kharge to form a new CWC. However, the differences between old guard and young leaders will now subside. Some experienced leaders may be back in the organisation. The new team which Kharge constitutes will be leading the party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The party has already lost the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections under the guidance of the existing team. The grand old party has just two states in its kitty, of which Rajasthan was disturbed terribly some time back. So, the well-known faces of the party may not be visible when the plenary takes place.