With a new year around the corner, Congress waiting for new party chief

The Congress leaders have asked Rahul Gandhi to take over and frantic calls have been made by AK Antony, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel.
Sonia Rahul Gandhi
Sonia Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: As 2020 transitions to a new year, Congress leaders are eagerly waiting for the election of the new party President — will Rahul Gandhi take over again, will somebody else pitch in or will interim chief Sonia Gandhi be appointed the permanent President.

Various camps within the party are floating different ideas and the dissenters have already made it clear that any attempt to appoint a proxy will be challenged within the party. Congress leaders know well that the Gandhis are the binding force in the party and the family is the main reason for both its strength and weakness.

The strength is the ability to take the party along but it has weakened electorally since the loss in the 2014 elections. The Congress may go for a Presidium system if Rahul Gandhi is reluctant and doesn’t take over, sources said, adding that in such a scenario Sonia Gandhi works as President and two persons are appointed as Working Presidents — one for North and another for South India.

Currently a team of leaders has been appointed to assist Sonia Gandhi including Mukul Wasnik who was one of the signatories to the letter written to Sonia Gandhi on organisational changes in the party.

Since the Central Election Committee responsible for holding elections in the party has met several times to deliberate the issue, the Congress is hoping that Rahul Gandhi will return. He had said at a December 19 meeting that he is ready to work for the party but did not budge to take the post despite calls from several leaders.

“No one has a problem with Rahul Gandhi, and this is not just for today. Everybody said that we need Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. We must not fall into the trap of other people who are trying to distort the party’s agenda,” senior party leader Pawan Bansal said, emerging out of the most awaited meeting ever since a group of 23 leaders had shot off a letter to Sonia Gandhi in August asking for major changes in the party.

The Congress leaders have asked Rahul Gandhi to take over and frantic calls have been made by AK Antony, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel.

Ahead of the meeting on December 19 Rahul Gandhi’s aide and General Secretary of the party Randeep Surjewala told mediapersons: “Congress workers, including AICC leaders, will choose a person who is best suited for the post of party chief. It is my belief and 99.9 per cent of Congress leaders and workers feel that Rahul Gandhi is the right person to lead the party and take on the Modi government,”.

But the dissenting camp thinks that this was an attempt to derail the meet and sources said that they have no problem with Rahul Gandhi. But the push for reforms will go on until the party goes in a collective decision making mode.

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