Kharge gets his 2024 team in place


The Congress President has finally reshuffled the Working Committee with a mix of young and old, Rahul Gandhi loyalists, G-23 members and some of his own team. The fact that Mallikarjun Kharge brought Shashi Tharoor into the Working Committee was a nice touch, for Tharoor had contested the party’s Presidential elections against him. This was one way of messaging that Kharge’s Congress would try to take everyone along. Besides that, Tharoor is an asset, underutilised until now, but let’s see if Kharge is secure enough to make use of him.
The inclusion of the now ninety-year-old Dr Manmohan Singh has created a lot of social media chatter. The question clearly is not about revering the old, but promoting the loyal and those who will not be a challenge to the current leadership. On this, both the BJP and the Congress seem to have a similar policy.
While on the subject, the average age of Kharge’s 84-member Congress Working Committee is 61 years with a fair representation to the “youth”. There are as many as 21 members below 50 years of age—like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sachin Pilot, Deepender Hooda, Meenakshi Natrajan, Praniti Shinde, Supriya Shrinate, B.V. Srinivas, Alka Lamba, Phulo Devi Netam and Gurdeep Sappal.
However, if you focus only on the regular members, then the average age goes up to 66 years and it is here that the loyalty factor gets more heft i.e. loyalty to the Gandhi family. Apart from the 81-year-old Kharge himself, there is Dr Singh, Ambika Soni, A.K. Antony from the old guard along with other Rahul loyalists such as Gaurav Gogoi, K.C. Venugopal, Jitendra Singh, Avinash Pande, Ajay Maken as part of the regular members (as is Jairam Ramesh whose loyalty comes in a category of its own).
Political analysts have deduced that Sachin’s inclusion is a sign that his future role would be at the Centre and not at the state level. But that is too simplistic a view.
For one his inclusion puts him at par with Ashok Gehlot who is included on grounds of being a chief minister. Second, given that the Rajasthan election could go either way, the CWC perch provides a safety net for young Pilot.
Again, the inclusion of Deepa Dasmunshi is interesting as the party is looking to prop a leader in the state of West Bengal.
Moreover, the late Priyaranjan Dasmunshi had a working equation with Mamata Bannerjee—unlike Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. So, in terms of Opposition unity, Deepa Dasmunshi sends the right signal to the TMC as well.
All in all, this was a reshuffle that has taken 10 months to happen. That’s one step taken in the right direction, before the 2024 General Elections.