The Congress decided that Rahul Gandhi will be its prime ministerial face for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the extended Congress Working Committee authorising him to forge alliances with "like-minded" political parties to take on the ruling BJP.At the first meeting of the recently constituted CWC (Congress Working Committee), Rahul Gandhi noted that expanding Congress vote base is the biggest task for the party ahead of 2019 elections.The CWC meeting was attended by 23 permanent members and 10 special inviteesRahul Gandhi called the new CWC, “a bridge between past, present and future” Janardan Dwivedi and Digvijay Singh were also invited for CWC meeting but they skipped the eventThe BJP calls it a ‘Darbari meeting’(The Quint will no longer be on WhatsApp, owing to changes in its policies regarding news publishers. You can now get the latest news updates on our Telegram channel. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram.)With less than a year to go for the general elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on 17 July constituted his first Congress Working Committee – with 23 permanent members, 18 permanent invitees and 10 special invitees.The new Congress chief has also included all AICC secretaries in-charge of different states – Jitendra Singh, RPN Singh, PL Punia, Asha Kumari, Rajni Patil, Ram Chandra Khuntia, Anugrah Narayan Singh, Rajeev S Satav, Shaktisinh Gohil, Gaurav Gogoi and A Chella Kumar – as permanent invitees. However, they will only be ex-officio members of the panel.Among the special invitees to the CWC are KH Muniyappa, Arun Yadav, Deepender Hooda, Jitin Prasada and Kuldeep Bishnoi.Besides, chiefs of party's frontal organisations INTUC, Seva Dal, Youth Congress, Mahila Congress and NSUI have also been included as ex-officio special invitees and they will also be ex-officio members.This is the first CWC constituted under the leadership of Gandhi, who took over as the president of the Opposition party last year.The first meeting of the committee has been set for 22 July. It will be of an “extended working committee” as Gandhi has also invited all state unit presidents and Congress legislative party leaders from states.CWC, which acts as an advisory panel on all key decisions of the party, has not been in place since a plenary session in March. The committee also has some veteran leaders on it, including Motilal Vora, Ashok Gehlot and AK Antony.Senior Congress leaders arrived at the Parliament Annexe in New Delhi on Sunday, 22 July, for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting which will be chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi.Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi reached the Parliament Annexe for the first CWC meeting under Rahul’s leadership.Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi underway at Parliament Annexe, Delhi.Congress president Rahul Gandhi called the newly constituted CWC, "an institution comprising of experience and energy, as a bridge between the past, present and the future," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted.Following Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh addressed the Congress Working Committee.According to party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, Singh hit out at the culture of “constant self praise and Jumlas of PM as against solid policy framework for driving the engine of growth.”He added that the Centre’s claim of doubling farm income by 2022 will require a growth rate of 14 percent, “which is nowhere in sight.”In her address at the CWC, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi claimed that the reverse countdown of the Narendra Modi-regime has begun, Congress spokesperson said.“... rhetoric of PM Modi shows his desperation reflecting that reverse countdown of Modi Govt has begun,” Randeep Surjewala tweeted, quoting Sonia Gandhi.Sonia Gandhi said that they would have to rescue “our people from a dangerous regime that is compromising the democracy of India. We are committed to making alliances work and we are all with him (Rahul Gandhi) in this endeavour.”Two members of the Congress party have raised the issue of mob lynchings that have battered the country over the past several months.The CWC discussed strategy on how to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019 general elections and form regional alliances.Several Congress leaders raised concerns regarding the party’s booth level management, saying that “it is not at par”.Former finance minister and senior party leader P Chidambaram said at the CWC meeting that Congress should ally with as many parties as possible for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Chidambaram’s comments were endorsed by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh."Congress can fight on its own in 150 seats in 12 states, but in the other states, it should ally with regional parties as much as possible to raise the numbers," Chidambaram said, according to The Quint’s sources.Several other leaders supported the view, Sachin Pilot, Shaktisinh Gohil and Ramesh Chennithala suggested that Congress should make a strategic alliance but the party should remain at the fulcrum and Rahul Gandhi should be the face of the coalation.Sonia Gandhi at the CWC meeting said that to counter RSS's organisational might and financial power, the opposition has to get together in strategic alliances keeping their personal ambitions aside, sources told news agency ANI.Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam told The Quint that Rahul Gandhi hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Friday was symbolic of the message of love that Congress wants to spread during times of mob violence and lynchings.Senior Congress leaders Janardan Dwivedi and Digvijay Singh were also invited for CWC meeting but they skipped the event.Rahul Gandhi had dropped the two leaders from Congress Working Committee.Party president Rahul Gandhi started his address at the All India Congress Committee (AICC)‘s extended CWC, saying the working committee is a “forum where India expressed, debated, contested and consented ideas to take the nation from colonial rule to freedom.”CWC gave voice to every single Indian. It accommodated views from different perspectives and gave space to the weakest voices of India. Our collective challenge is to shape our current CWC to that level.Congress President Rahul GandhiHe added, “Expansion of our party vote base is one of our biggest tasks. In each constituency, we have to find people who have not voted for us and develop a strategy to reach out to them and win back their trust.”The first CWC meeting under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi has ended.Sources told ANI that the CWC authorised Rahul Gandhi to take decision on pre-poll and post-poll alliances.Following the CWC meeting, Rahul Gandhi said, “if a party leader gives a wrong statement and weakens our fight, I will not hesitate to take an action,” ANI reported.“Rahul Gandhi has been authorised to form an election campaign committee and take decisions on pre-poll and post-poll alliance,” Ashok Gehlot said in the press conference.After the CWC meeting, when asked about the probable alliances that Congress will be working on, Rahul Gandhi said, “We are setting up a group to do it.”Congress leader Sachin Pilot told The Quint that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is “highly unpopular” and BJP’s decision of declaring her as the chief ministerial candidate will reduce the party’s vote share further.Pilot added that Congress is the only party that can take on the BJP at a national level and “other regional parties will play important role.”Congress leader Rajiv Satav told The Quint that the biggest takeaway of the CWC meeting was that young Congress leaders and party veterans will work in harmony to ensure good results.Challenges facing the agricultural sectorUnemployment crisisIssues plaguing the Indian economyIll-treatment of Dalits and TribalsLip service on OBCs, MBCsWomen empowermentThe failure of Modi's 56-inch foreign policyRestoration of constitutional institutionsSpecial status for Andhra PradeshChallenges in Jammu & Kashmir and the North EastAt the CWC meeting earlier on Sunday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said, “Institutions affiliated to the RSS are being created with the money from government of India. Whenever RSS and BJP come to power, they siphon money from their respective government and build their institutions.”He added that Congress can come together with other parties and win the coming elections. “After that, the damage done by the BJP & RSS to India's institutions will have to be undone. Only the Congress can do this”MoreThe electoral math is clear, elections will be won on opposition unity. Rahul Gandhi, CongressThe BJP took a dig at the Congress, saying the CWC meet presided by Rahul Gandhi was rather a "Congress non-working committee" meeting headed by the party's "non-performing" chief.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the CWC meeting was more of a "Congress darbari meeting" and it was aimed at promoting the interests of a single family."Today, the CWC, rather Congress non-working committee, met under non-performing president Rahul Gandhi. After losing the no-confidence motion badly on the floor of Parliament, this was a meeting chaired by Rahul Gandhi, which was previously being chaired by Sonia Gandhi for 20 long years," he said.