Congress president Rahul Gandhi on numerous occasions spoke about a cultural change that his party required.
According to reliable sources in various closed-door meetings with his party's leaders, Gandhi asked his general secretaries to stay connected with party workers and keep their ears to the ground.
Through his various yatras — Kisan Yatra in Uttar Pradesh, Navsarjan Yatra in Gujarat and Jana Ashirwad Yatra in Karnataka — the Gandhi scion tried to bridge the gap between the party's high command and district leaders and grass-roots level workers.
The gap between Delhi and district leaders and booth-level workers actually cost the Congress many elections. That's why the first instruction that Gandhi gave to all his generals and those in-charge of states after taking over as party president was to strengthen the organisation at booth-level.
The rejig in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is part of a series of changes that Gandhi has rolled out in the grand old party to shape a 'newer upgraded version of the Congress' ever since he took over as its chief.
Former MP of Srinagar (then a PDP MP) Tariq Hameed Karra also finds a place in CWC as Permanent invitee. @tariqkarra had left PDP and joined Congress. “He holds massive ground support in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” said a Congress source pic.twitter.com/w2fwB4IcQL— Supriya Bhardwaj (@Supriya23bh) July 17, 2018
Many first under Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s CWC : For d first time Frontal organisation - @MahilaCongress; @IYC ; @nsui & Seva Dal - chiefs hv been made members as Special invitees. Also, for d first time all Aicc State incharges have been made members as permanent invitee pic.twitter.com/WyFjmxhe8w— Supriya Bhardwaj (@Supriya23bh) July 17, 2018
After seven months of becoming president, Gandhi has in a way walked the talk.
To begin with, ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in 2018 and the big battle in 2019, CWC, the party's apex decision-making body, has many veteran electoral warhorses, who still retain the winnability quotient in them, replacing the 'old guard'.
Six former chief ministers have made it to the Gandhi's list of CWC members — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Oommen Chandy, Siddaramaiah, Ashok Gehlot, Tarun Gogoi, Harish Rawat. Sheila Dikshit, meanwhile, has found a place in the CWC as a permanent invitee.
These new general secretaries, who have been in active politics and have ruled states, have been handed down the mace, to take the BJP head on.
"These leaders are well connected with the grass roots and are still active in politics. Instead of staying in the Congress headquarters and not having ears to the ground, these leaders are connected with the ground and have stakes in states," said a senior party leader.
Interestingly, there were many heavyweights, whose names very doing the round in Delhi's political circles, but they didn't find a berth in the CWC.
The message from the Congress president is clear: Leaders won't be inducted in the CWC just for the sake of accommodation or symbolism. They had to prove their mettle in the organisation and on the field to find a place in the CWC. "Perform and get rewarded," is apparently Congress' new mantra.
It is a known fact that the issues of Dalits, OBCs, SCs and STs are very close to Gandhi's heart. During several public meetings, he had openly said that he wants to give more space to leaders who come from the marginalised sections in the organisation. And Gandhi has started that process too. The newly constituted CWC is more balanced as far as caste equations are concerned.
As far as active politics is concerned, this revamp also is a way to cement the Congress strategy to woo the marginalised communities keeping Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in mind.
During the All Indian Congress Committee 84th plenary session, Gandhi had spoken about decentralisation of power and how "workers are the new kings" in the party.
Gandhi's visions of an inclusive, decentralised and grass roots driven party is now well reflected in the CWC wherein regional leaders from across the country have been given more preference.
There are already murmurs about how district presidents of the Congress will now have a greater say in decision-making of the party and ticket distribution.
The new responsibility is, however, not going to be a cake walk for those who have been included in the CWC. The general secretaries and other office-bearers have been asked to submit monthly reports about the number of days they are spending in their respective states and how far the party's 2019 election plans have been implemented on the ground.
This CWC reshuffle marks the beginning of the Rahul Gandhi Congress.