No leader from Bihar or Jharkhand has been appointed to the newly constituted body.
With not a single leader from Bihar and Jharkhand finding a place in the newly constituted Congress Working Committee (CWC) under Rahul Gandhi, questions are being raised by state Congress leaders as to whether Rahul is even serious about the party’s performance in these two states that constitute “Hindi heartland” and send 54 members to the Lok Sabha.
The CWC, which is the highest decision making body of the party, was announced earlier this week. It has 51 members—23 members, 19 permanent invitees and 9 special invitees. The previous CWC had 36 members.
“This is a disaster. It shows the lack of seriousness on the part of Rahul Gandhi when it comes to the party affairs in Bihar and Jharkhand. It has been nearly one year since we had a full time state party president (Ashok Choudhary was removed in September 2017). Despite making repeated requests to appoint a state chief, nothing has happened and now we saw that Rahul Gandhi did not find a single leader from the state eligible enough to be a part of the CWC. This has given a very wrong message at a time when we workers have been deserting the party in Bihar,” a party leader said, requesting anonymity.
Party sources in New Delhi said that one of the reasons for not appointing any leader from Bihar in the CWC was that it would have increased factionalism.
“Bihar has not gone totally unrepresented. A neutral man (Shakti Singh Gohil, who is from Gujarat and is the in-charge of Bihar) has been made a member. Secondly, we are facing a lot of factionalism in the state right now and hence it was felt that making someone a CWC member would have led to more friction among the state leaders,” a party leader said.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Shakeel Ahmed, who was an MP from Madhubani in Bihar and a member of the CWC from June 2013 till June 2016 before leaving the post (he had to go abroad for personal reasons), told The Sunday Guardian that the constitution of the CWC is the prerogative of the party president.
“In the plenary that was held in March, the party leaders and workers had left it on the party president to constitute the CWC. Traditionally, there can be 23 members in the committee, which also needs to have former Prime Ministers, former party presidents and since India is such a huge country and Congress is such a big party, it sometimes becomes difficult to accommodate everyone at the same time. The members of CWC can be changed as per the needs, this is not permanent,” Ahmed, who is now the national spokesperson, said.
However, state party leaders said that the optics of the whole development was very negative. “We have been reduced to two MPs in the state and there is a very serious chance that we will be reduced to only one in 2019. In the state where we used to be the major party, we have been reduced to virtually a non-entity. It is because of decisions like these that we are forced to play the second fiddle to regional parties. Unless and until the party high command empowers the state leaders, we cannot emerge stronger in either of these two states,” a Patna based party leader said.