Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

Sonia Gandhi Named Interim Congress President After Marathon CWC Meeting

Sonia Gandhi Named Interim Congress President After Marathon CWC Meeting

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was named interim Congress president, returning at the helm after almost 20 months.

Sonia Gandhi is the interim Congress president. The announcement was made at the CWC meeting. Photo Credit: AICC

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was named interim Congress president on Saturday, returning at the helm after almost 20 months.

The announcement was made after a marathon Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held at AICC headquarters in Delhi.

The CWC also accepted Rahul Gandhi's resignation.

Sonia returned as party president almost 20 months after making way for his son Rahul Gandhi in December 2017. She had led the party for almost 19 years before she quit the post citing health reasons.

She returned to the helm the party two months after the Congress suffered a massive drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls under Rahul Gandhi's leadership.

The Congress Working Committee met twice on Saturday to take a final call on the new party president after a number of leaders, including state chiefs and MPs, backed Rahul Gandhi to continue on the post despite his refusal to reconsider his resignation. 

The Congress' top brass, including ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh, party general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and P Chidambaram, met at the All India Congress Committee headquarters.

The CWC decided to have consultations with leaders from across the country and it was divided into five groups for different regions -- North, East, West, South and Northeast.

During the wider consultation process involving state PCC chiefs, Congress legislature party leaders, AICC secretaries and party MPs, only a few suggested other names while a majority of them said the party will face desertions if Rahul Gandhi does not remain the leader. The leaders also insisted that a non-Gandhi Congress president will not enjoy a pan-party mandate.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi recused themselves from the consultation process earlier during the day saying they cannot be part of it as they have been Congress presidents in the past and would not like the opinion of the party leaders to be influenced in any manner.

"There is process of consultation and naturally Rahul ji and me, we cannot be part of that consultation," Sonia Gandhi told reporters in the morning.

The CWC group for the northeast region included top party leaders such as Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat. The group for eastern region included AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, ex-Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and former Union minister Kumari Selja.

The northern region group included Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Jyotiraditya Scindia and P Chidambaram. The western region group leaders were Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, A K Antony and Motilal Vora.

The group for the southern region included Manmohan Singh, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy were also part of the consultation process.

The CWC also passed three resolutions on Rahul Gandhi's contribution as party chief, Sonia Gandhi being appointed interim chief till the AICC elects a regular president, and on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

(With inputs from agencies)