Delhi: The Congress Working Committee members on Monday unanimously supported Rahul Gandhi's elevation as president of the Congress party.
It was party veteran AK Antony who set the ball rolling at the meeting, which lasted for four hours, when he spoke about the need for Rahul to take over the mantle of the 130-year-old party from her mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
All other members, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed suit.
Later, addressing the press, Antony said, "CWC was of view that Rahul Gandhi must take over presidency of the Congress party. It is high time Congress mobilises all forces to fight against the dictatorial rule of Modi government."
"This is first time the CWC has expressed strong sentiment regarding Rahul's elevation. We will inform the collective recommendation to Sonia Gandhi. Final decision has to be that of the party president," he added.
Surjewala further said that after Sonia takes a decision, the CWC would meet again to formally ratify it.
But Antony said Sonia will not nominate her successor as Congress president.
"It is not her decision. She is not nominating the Congress president," he said.
On being asked about Rahul's reaction, Congress vice president was quoted as saying by another party leader and spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, "Whatever the Congress party and CWC will decide I will be ready to take on the challenge and fight for the idea of India."
About party elections, he said, "Congress has sought one year extension from Election Commission for holding organisational polls."
However, both Antony and Surjewala evaded questions as to when exactly Rahul would take over the reins of the party from his mother and whether it would happen on November 19, the day the AICC has organised a grand celebration on the birth centenary of Indira Gandhi.
Sonia, 69, did not attend the meeting as she was said to be indisposed.
In her absence, Rahul today presided over the crucial CWC meeting. This was the first time that he presided over the meeting attended by Congress top brass.
Senior party leaders Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardan Dwivedi, Ahmed Patel and Ambika Soni, among others, attended the meet.
46-year-old Rahul was appointed party vice-president in January 2013 at Congress's brainstorming session in Jaipur.
The talk about his elevation has been going on for quite some time now.
On the other hand, Sonia holds the record of being the Congress chief for 18 consecutive years. She had taken over from Sitaram Kesri in 1998.
On other issues discussed in the CWC meet, the highest decision-making body of the party, Surjewala said, "Resolution condemning the statements made by ministers of ruling party (surgical strikes happened for the first time) was also passed. Resolution was passed in CWC meet requesting government to take strict action against perpetrators of Uri and other terrorist attacks."
"Modi government diluted actual OROP introduced by our government and implemented it as one rank many pensions," he said talking about the contentious issue.
Rahul slams BJP-led NDA government
Meanwhile, earlier, the Congress VP made a scathing attack on the Modi government at the CWC meet, saying that 'democracy under the present dispensation is going through one of the darkest hours."
Gandhi, who has been raking up the issue of OROP issue since the past few days, also said, "In recent months, our jawans have suffered the highest casualties in decades. They are being cruelly rewarded by a callous government with denial of OROP and cut in disability pension."
Rahul added that the BJP government was expected to launch a "disinformation campaign and polarisation to exploit caste and religious issues. With state elections due in the coming months as we can safely expect the Modi government to launch a campaign of disinformation and polarisation. They will exploit caste and religious fault lines. We must anticipates and neutralise such devious strategies," as per PTI.
Underlining that Congress has "successfully exposed" BJP government's "anti-poor agenda and broken promises", Rahul asked partymen to continue the "struggle to expose the comprehensive failure of the Modi government on all fronts".
Highlighting the alleged failures of the government, he said atrocities against Dalits "go unabated" and the rights of Adivasis "continue to be trampled upon".
"Selectively chosen corporates are favoured, not the aam admi. Youth, even those who have good education, face the spectre of unemployment. Non-availability of bank credit has choked out small businesses. In the last 20 months, exports have registered negative growth," he charged.
(With Agency inputs)