NEW DELHI: The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's top decision-making body, on Saturday unanimously elected Sonia Gandhi as the interim president of the party. This was announced by senior Congress leader and CWC member Ghulam Nabi Azad.
''Sonia Gandhi is the new Congress president,'' Azad said after emerging out of the CWC meeting.
Sharing more details, Congress leader PL Punia said, ''We have decided to have Sonia Gandhi as the interim president of the party....we will have a full-time president after our internal elections."
Former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said, “After accepting Rahul Gandhi's resignation, we requested Sonia Gandhi to take over as the Congress president.”
During the CWC meeting, Rahul Gandhi's resignation was also accepted, they said.
It may be recalled that Sonia Gandhi had held the post of Congress president between 1998 and 2017 before her son Rahul took over the reins.
Party leaders said that all the five sub-groups formed region-wise to choose the new Congress president had recommended Rahul Gandhi`s name for the post, but he refused to take the charge. The CWC members then recommended Sonia Gandhi's name as the interim party chief.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was present during the meeting.
Shortly after the CWC meeting concluded, party leader Randeep Surjewala and KC Venugopal addressed media regarding the decisions taken by the party.
Congress leader KC Venugopal read out the resolutions adopted by the party and said, "CWC places on record a profound sense of appreciation and gratitude for the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Gave a new sense of modernity and aggression, gave numerous opportunities to youngsters."
''Irrespective of the results of 2019 LS elections Rahul Gandhi gave us a new direction and aggression. Rahul Gandhi's input and advice will be constantly sought,'' Venugopal said.
Welcoming the decision, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said, ''It's great news. Best option. Soniaji will lead the party to new success again.''
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) August 10, 2019
Ahead of the CWC meeting, Sonia Gandhi had addressed a prayer meet for late Congress leader Sheila Dikshit and said, ''She stood by my side in my darkest years. Later, when I was able to come out of my sorrow, she urged me to take the responsibility of presidentship of the Congress party and when I took it, she was there guiding me as an elder sister.''
This morning, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul had excused themselves from the zonal meetings, saying they cannot be part of the selection process.
Rahul Gandhi had announced his decision to quit the party's top post in May after its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha election.
A senior leader present in the previous meeting, that lasted from 11.10 AM to 1.15 PM, said, "The CWC members urged Rahul Gandhi to reconsider his decision to resign but he remained adamant on quitting."
Jyotiraditya Scindia then asked Rahul Gandhi to take some more time to reconsider his decision.
In his response, Rahul Gandhi said he was not escaping from the responsibilities of the party, but believed that after a new president is chosen, he will get more time to work for the party. Earlier in the day, after emerging from the meeting, Sonia Gandhi told reporters that she and Rahul Gandhi are not part of the five sub-groups formed in the CWC to elect the new party chief.
When reporters told her that her name is present in the five region-wise groups formed to hold consultations, she said, "Rahul and I cannot participate in the election of the new party chief. Putting our names is not good."
Rahul Gandhi told reporters, "I am going to Wayanad tomorrow for two days as the condition is very disturbing there" due to heavy rains.
The CWC met this morning to elect a new party chief after Rahul Gandhi quit the post following the party`s miserable showing in the Lok Sabha elections.
Besides Rahul and Sonia, the meeting of the CWC was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior party leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Ahmed Patel, P. Chidambaram and several others.