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  Opinion   Edit  21 Aug 2023  AA Edit | New CWC sends a clear signal, not a strong one

AA Edit | New CWC sends a clear signal, not a strong one

Published : Aug 22, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Aug 22, 2023, 12:05 am IST

It is evident that Mr Kharge has chosen to be inclusive of various hues of opinions within the party.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (PTI Photo)
 Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (PTI Photo)

Mallikarjun Kharge has constituted a Congress Working Committee (CWC) 10 months after his election as president of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) reflecting the fact that the party must wake up to sorting its internal divisions before looking ahead to be a leading player of the INDIA alliance. This, despite the fact that much thought has not gone into accommodating regional aspirations as well as the party’s proclaimed commitment to bringing up a new generation of leaders.

It is evident that Mr Kharge has chosen to be inclusive of various hues of opinions within the party. A group of 23 leaders, who came to be known as G-23, appeared on the party’s horizon at a time when the organisation appeared adrift after the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as president following the party’s poor showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Instead of engaging the leaders who demanded that the party follow basic democratic norms, the leadership then almost branded them as rebels with the result that several of them who have contributed immensely to the party in the past quit.

Mr Kharge, however, coopted four members from G-23 who remain in the party in the CWC, sending a clear message that the party can live with dissent as long as they serve the overall purpose and be true to the idea of liberalism the Congress has always stood for. The choice of Dr Shashi Tharoor who fought Mr Kharge and made the presidential election a democratic exercise, and Mr Sachin Pilot who has been having a running battle with the party’s chief minister in his home state of Rajasthan, shows this sense of accommodation. It is now up to the leaders to further contribute to the party’s struggle for survival.

There are disappointing choices too. People who have practically retired from active political life such as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Union ministers A.K. Antony and Ambika Soni have been retained in a committee which has only three members who are aged below 50. Kerala, which has sent the largest contingent of Congress Lok Sabha members has as many as five members in the extended CWC but states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have not been given their due, especially at a time when the units there show some promises of a return.

The Congress will need all its energies to lead the newly-formed INDIA bloc in its crucial fight against the Narendra Modi-led NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are states such as West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab and Delhi where the party has its allies as electoral foes; the party and the alliance will have put all their negotiation and political skills to wade through the potential mess such scenarios could present. Implosion in states such as Maharashtra where the alliance partners are prone to the machinations of the BJP which has the levers of controls of central investigation agencies pose another set of challenges. Given the scenario, the party has Mr Kharge’s statesmanship and long political career to bank on; and he has shown the signs that he is up to the mark.

Tags: congress working committee (cwc), congress mp mallikarjun kharge, aa edit