Inside story of how Sonia became interim president of Congress

By Siddharth Sharma

New Delhi [India]: After months of uncertainty, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) handed over the presidency of the party to Sonia Gandhi, two years after she relinquished the post for her son Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul, who took over the reins of the party in 2017, tendered his resignation as party chief at the CWC meeting on May 25, taking moral responsibility for the party’s drubbing in the general elections. Since then, the party has been looking for a new face for Congress chief.

CWC meeting

Meanwhile, a CWC meeting was called on Saturday in which the committee created five groups and asked suggestions from its state units across the country. The opinion was unanimous on Rahul continuing as party chief but he turned down the request and asserted that a non-Gandhi should now take over as the next chief.

For the entire day, Congress leaders mulled over different names. Some suggested non-Gandhi names for party chief.

Then, former finance minister P Chidambaram proposed that Sonia should be made the party’s interim president.

However, Sonia refused at first. Even Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who was also present in the meeting objected to Chidambaram’s proposal. But she said if Sonia is ready then nobody can say anything in this case.

Former defence minister AK Antony stood up to oppose. Jyotiradiya Scindia asked him to sit down. He asked why it cannot be done.

“When Rahul is not ready to accept the decision of CWC then Madam (Sonia) should come forward to take the charge,” Scindia said.

Congress leaders including Ambika Soni, Asha Kumari and Kumari Shailja also chipped in to state that the party cannot function without Gandhi family. They also asked Sonia to convince Rahul but she refused to talk to him.

These leaders clearly told Sonia that she has to take the responsibility of the party and when all the CWC members repeated their request, then 72-year-old Sonia was persuaded to accept the proposal. She served as Congress party chief for 19 years from 1998 to 2017.

According to sources, the office bearers of AICC will not be changed until Sonia constitutes a new team.