SONIA IS BACK … Sonia Gandhi named as interim president of Congress

NEW DELHI: The Congress Working Committee on Saturday selected Sonia Gandhi as the working president of the party — after marathon group discussions failed to pick a non-Nehru family member to head the party either as president of working president. Sonia Gandhi initially rejected the proposal, and then agreed to take up the leadership.

The announcement was made to the media by senior leaders Gulam Nabi Azad and KC Venugopal around 11pm.

The CWC said the party leadership first wanted Rahul Gandhi as the president, in discussions on Saturday, but as he refused the choice fell on Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi was party president for over 15 years before she stepped down in December 2017 to make her son Rahul Gandhi the party president. Rahul Gandhi resigned the president post on May 25, after the party’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, for the second consecutive time. 

The Indian National Congress was formed 134 years ago to fight for India’s Independence from the British. In 1969, when Indira Gandhi was expelled from the Congress party by the old guard, she formed her own Congress party, which was named Congress (Indira). The original Congress withered away in course of time, and the Congress of Indira Gandhi removed the indira adjunct from the name to claim it to be the original Congress.

When Jawaharlal Nehru became first Prime Minister, he engineered matters in the party in such a way that his daughter Indira Gandhi was made the party president, so that he could control party affairs too from behind. 

Then came Nehru’s demise due to heart attack, and later the break up of the Congress party.

After Indira Gandhi’s demise, her son Rajiv Gandhi held the post of PM as also the position of Congress president. It continued so till his assassination in 1991.

Except for a short period in the 1990s, after Rajiv Gandhi’s demise, the Congress was led by a leader from outside the Nehru family. That was Sitaram Kesri. Not many Congressmen cared for him, and then Sonia Gandhi took over as the party president, a position she continued till 2018. Sonia Gandhi ran the party with total command of the organisation. Her son Rahul Gandhi was initially reticent to take over the leadership of the party, but the mother was reportedly keen to groom him as her successor. Once he became party president, Rahul Gandhi obviously developed a liking for the aura he held as party chief. The electoral defeats for the party hurt him. 

Sonia Gandhi carries with her the stigma of  the scams of the UPA period, but Congressmen hope she is the best bet for the party even now. They have less of faith in both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. This was evident in the CWC discussions on Saturday.  

What is eagerly looked forward to is how Rahul Gandhi would respond to the CWC decision to name Sonia Gandhi as interim president. IHN-NN


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