‘Team Rahul’ yet to take shape

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi

A month after the 84th plenary of the Congress was held here, party president Rahul Gandhi is yet to announce the new Congress Working Committee (CWC). The delay has left some leaders wondering if Mr. Gandhi has “new ideas” about the party’s highest decision-making body.

Congress communication chief Randeep Singh Surjewala, known to be close to the party chief, played down the delay and attributed it to the Assembly elections in Karnataka.

“The Congress president is preoccupied with the Karnataka elections. In the meanwhile, there have been many appointments to Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and of State in-charges. It is a process that will ultimately culminate in the constitution of the CWC very soon,” Mr. Surjewala told The Hindu .

The appointments Mr. Surjewala referred to, have followed a distinct pattern.

Unlike earlier, when one general secretary would handle three or four States, the newly appointed State in-charges have been given only one State.

Gujarat leader Shaktisinh Gohil has been made in charge of Bihar, former Lok Sabha member Bhanwar Jitender Singh now handles Odisha and Anugrah Narayan Singh, MP from Uttar Pradesh, has been made the head of Uttarakhand.

In February, two months after taking over as Congress president, Mr. Gandhi disbanded the 25-member CWC and set up an ad hoc steering committee to conduct the plenary.

No deadline

While the party constitution allows 12 elected members, the party has authorised Mr. Gandhi to pick his new team.

“Though there is no time frame in the party constitution by when he should have a new CWC, it should have been done by the plenary or soon after. You can run in ad hoc way only up to a point. Maybe, he has some radical new ideas,” said a senior Congress leader on the delay.

Another senior party functionary, however, pointed out that the Congress chief had cleared new PCC chiefs for Gujarat and Odisha, secretaries for Chhattisgarh and appointed former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as the new general secretary who now handles organisation and training.

“I think the CWC should be in place after the Karnataka polls,” he said.

A few old-timers, however, argued that the delay in constituting the CWC only points towards its “irrelevance in the new scheme of things”.

“Even if the CWC was constituted, what would it achieve? When the UPA was in power, the CWC had lost its eminence to a new body — the Core Group. The CWC was used to rubber-stamp decisions taken by the Core Group,” said a bitter Congress leader.

Another leader said, “Mr. Gandhi talks of collective leadership but many of the people he chose are the ones with no mass following. And right now, they are busy building a profile for themselves in the States they are supposed to head.”

Younger leaders, however, point out that Mr. Gandhi is trying to pick people with a “grassroots connect.”

“Earlier you needed recommendations or a famous surname for positions of leadership. Now that’s changing and some feel uncomfortable,” says an All India Congress Committee secretary.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 3:10:44 am |