Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala on Friday said that the party would soon begin the process to elect a new president and that 99.9% of the members wanted Rahul Gandhi to be chosen, reported the Hindustan Times. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is currently the interim president of the party.
“[The] party will soon start the procedure to elect a new party president,” he said at a press conference. “Electoral college of Congress, AICC members, Congress workers and members will choose who is best suited. “99.9% of people including me want Rahul Gandhi to be elected as party president.”
Rahul Gandhi had announced that he would no longer lead the party on July 3, 2019. He had accepted responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.
The Grand Old Party is likely to elect the new president ahead of the crucial elections to the Assemblies of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. The demand for a new party chief has built up over the past few months with several people criticising the Gandhis for the Congress’ poor performance in recently-held Bihar Assembly polls and bye-elections.
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi has reportedly called a meeting of senior leaders, including some of the 23 “dissenters”, at her residence on Saturday to discuss matters like the revival of the party, upcoming Assembly elections and the farmers’ protest. This will be the first in-person party meeting at Gandhi’s residence since the imposition of the countrywide lockdown on March 25 to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The party will also discuss the cancellation of the Parliament’s winter session. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had asked the Centre to hold a short session to discuss the intensifying farmers’ protest.
On November 22, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated his demands for holding internal elections in the party. Azad had said that things in the party would not change till functioning is revamped at every level.
Among non-Congress leaders, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on December 4 had expressed concern over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s leadership abilities, claiming that he had lacked consistency.
Rahul Gandhi had offered to step down as Congress president on May 25, 2019, after the party managed to win only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha elections. Though the Congress Working Committee unanimously rejected his resignation, Gandhi remained firm on his decision. Several top leaders had then urged Gandhi to continue leading the party. In June 2019, several Congress leaders resigned from their posts to give Gandhi a free hand to choose a new team.