Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday refused to be part of the process to find its next president, reported PTI. The Congress Working Committee formed five consultation groups to discuss with leaders across the country to select the next chief, PTI reported.
“We cannot be part of this process,” Sonia Gandhi said after she refused to take part in the selection process. She added that her name was included by default in the region-wise committees formed for wider consultations on selecting a new party chief.
Rahul Gandhi left the selection process saying he would be visiting his parliamentary constituency Wayanad in Kerala to take stock of the flood situation.
The Gandhis were included in the five groups – Northeast, East, North, West and South. The CWC will consult Members of Parliament and state unit leaders to decide on a final name for the top post.
Sonia Gandhi was made part of the eastern zonal committee while Rahul Gandhi’s name was included in the zonal committee for western India, NDTV reported.
A final decision will reportedly be taken by 9 pm on Saturday.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the decision-making body also asked Rahul Gandhi to remain party chief, but he refused, PTI reported.
Former Union ministers Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushil Kumar Shinde are among the frontrunners for the post, according to several reports.
“I have asked [AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal] Venugopal ji to widen the consultation process and take a considered decision to select the new Congress president,” Gandhi was quoted as saying at the meeting. “I have asked him to include all those present here in the deliberations.” Senior party leaders such as Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge also held meetings through the day, reports said.
All 65 All India Congress Committee secretaries were asked to attend the Congress Working Committee meeting, a party member said. Senior leaders also consulted Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Friday, according to News18.
Last week, former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora had suggested the names of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot for the post. Leaders such as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Shashi Tharoor had recommended the named of Rahul Gandhi’s sister, Priyanka Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi had quit the party’s top post taking responsibility for the poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections, where it won only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats. Gandhi had offered to step down as Congress president on May 25, but the Congress Working Committee had unanimously rejected his resignation then. However, Rahul Gandhi had remained firm on his decision despite several top leaders urging him to continue leading the party.