Sonia Gandhi back as Cong president


New Delhi, Aug 11
Less than two years after she gave up the post, Sonia Gandhi was chosen to be president of the Congress on Saturday, albeit in an interim position, as the grand old party gropes for direction in the aftermath of a devastating electoral defeat that prompted her son and successor Rahul Gandhi to resign.
“Sonia Gandhi is the new Congress president,” party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest policy-making body, ended at around 11 pm. The CWC finally accepted the resignation Rahul Gandhi submitted as president on May 25.
Sonia Gandhi, 72, who is also chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was chosen interim president of the 134-year-old party after a last- ditch effort by the CWC to persuade Rahul Gandhi, 49, to continue failed.
“The CWC requested Rahul Gandhi to take back his resignation and remain as the Congress president. But he politely declined this request while maintaining that he respects the sentiments of people in the party... After this, the CWC unanimously decided that Sonia Gandhi should handle the post of the interim chief until a regular president is picked. She accepted this request,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Kumari Selja, a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, told reporters that the CWC had taken the decision out of deference to the sentiments of Rahul Gandhi, who rose to the position of party president on December 16, 2017, and gave up the post on May 25 after the party’s Lok Sabha electoral rout.
When the CWC met for a second time on Saturday in the evening, it was once again proposed that Rahul Gandhi take back his resignation, but Priyanka Gandhi informed the meeting that he was adamant and did not want to reconsider it, according to a leader present at the meeting.
At this point, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram suggested that Sonia Gandhi take over as the party chief. The proposal was unanimously backed by the CWC, the leader added.
While Sonia Gandhi refused to accept the request at first, she agreed after repeated pleas on the condi- tion that she would stay on as interim chief only till the election to choose a full-time president was held. Sonia Gandhi said her returning as the party chief would again give a handle to the opponents to attack the Congress as the family was unwilling to give up its hold over the party, she said.
She insisted that this point be included in the resolution released after the meeting, he added. The resolution said that Rahul Gandhi had declined to withdraw his resignation. “Consequently, the CWC unanimously resolved to request Smt. Sonia Gandhi to take over Interim President pending the election of a regular President by the AICC {All India Congress Committee}.”
Rahul Gandhi came to the meeting in the evening only after he was told that the CWC was going to discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation and he left soon after the presentation on the State was over.