The Congress on Wednesday said that the Nehru-Gandhi family has never been drawn to power after reports quoted its General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying in an interview that she favoured a non-Gandhi as the president for the party.

In a book titled “India Tomorrow: Conversations with the Next Generation of Political Leaders” by Pradeep Chhibber and Harsh Shah published on August 13, Vadra is quoted seconding her brother Rahul Gandhi that the party needed a non-Gandhi member at the top post. Referring to her remarks on Monday, the Congress spokesperson clarified that the interview was a year old.

“We at the Congress appreciate the sudden media interest [egged on by the Bharatiya Janata Party] in a year old remark [dated 1st July, 2019] of Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,” Surjewala tweeted. “The context today is to take on the vicious attack on India’s polity by Modi-Shah dispensation and fight it fearlessly on [the] front foot.”

He also defended the Nehru-Gandhi family and said that interim party chief Sonia Gandhi sacrificed power to serve the country in 2014, adding that in 2019, Rahul Gandhi displayed courage by stepping down as the party president after the Congress performed poorly in the Lok Sabha General Assembly polls.

The spokesperson also defended Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and said that the party workers respect the former Congress president for leading the fight against the BJP “tireleesly, undaunted by the setbacks and vile attacks” by the Modi government.

Another Congress spokesperson also revealed earlier in the day that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had offered to resign from the top post so that Rahul Gandhi could take the helm but he declined, NDTV reported.

Vadra’s comments came at a time when the Congress has maintained that electing a new president has not been possible due to the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the infection. Sonia Gandhi has functioned as the party’s interim chief for over a year now. Earlier this month, the Congress had announced that Sonia Gandhi will continue as the interim president of the party till a procedure was implemented to elect her successor.

Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor has also repeatedly called for elections to choose the party’s successor. On August 9, he had said the process of finding a new full-time party president had to be done faster amid the public perception that the Congress was “adrift and rudderless”.