CWC meet today: Crucial Congress meeting to decide on leadership

CWC meet today: Crucial Congress meeting to decide on leadership

Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving Congress party president from 1998-2017. She has been the interim president of the party since 2019

(File photo) Priyanka Gandhi (L), Rahul Gandhi (C) and Sonia Gandhi (R) | PTI (File photo) Priyanka Gandhi (L), Rahul Gandhi (C) and Sonia Gandhi (R) | PTI

Congress party president Sonia Gandhi is likely to offer her resignation from her post in the today's CWC meeting, scheduled to be held at 11 am. A letter reportedly sent to the party leadership and signed by top Congressmen and Congresswomen, including former union ministers, ex-chief ministers, sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) prompted the 73-year-old party's interim chief to make this decision.

The letter is thought to have urged the top leadership to bring about change in the organisational structure. However, it also stressed that the Nehru-Gandhi family will "always remain an integral part of the collective leadership" of the Congress party.

After details of the letter became public, sources close to Sonia Gandhi said that in response, she might quit as party's interim chief and ask the leadership to scout for a full-time president. Soon after, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala denied reports and claimed that Sonia Gandhi has not communicated any such decision to him.

While Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his counterparts in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan Bhupesh Baghel and Ashok Gehlot, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and former ministers Ashwani Kumar, Salman Khurshid and KK Tewary backed the Gandhis, those wanting changes included Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Mukul Wasnik, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and ex-Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving Congress party president from 1998-2017. She has been the interim president of the party since 2019. Sonia reluctantly took over as interim chief on August 10 last year following a request from the CWC after her son Rahul Gandhi declined to stay in a  chief post the 2019 Lok Sabha poll debacle.

All eyes are now on the CWC meeting to see whether Sonia Gandhi resigns as she did in 1999 after the then Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sharad Pawar questioned her foreign origins. The CWC eventually rejected the resignation and Pawar along with P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar had to quit the Congress to form the NCP.

Congress leaders backing Sonia Gandhi

1. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was one of the first leaders who came out in support of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.  "Sonia Gandhi should continue to helm the Congress as long as she wants," he said in a statement, adding that Rahul Gandhi should thereafter take over as he is fully competent to lead the party.

2. Bhupesh Baghel, chief minister of Chhattisgarh who defeated one of the BJP's longest-serving chief ministers- Raman Singh wrote, "For every challenge, Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji are the beacons of light. We are all with you. Congress workers in Chhattisgarh and crores from across the country along with citizens are with you".

"The troubled times our country is going through, only your guidance will get rid of those troubles," Baghel added.

3. V Narayanasamy, chief minister of Puducherry also echoed a similar sentiment. He wrote on Twitter saying "Saw the news in some newspapers that ex congressmen wanted to overhaul and changes in congress party. This kind of statement will create confusion in the minds of millions of congressmen This a ploy by BJP to divert the attention of people from Facebook controversy".

4. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot termed the letter as unfortunate and said the Gandhi family has kept the party united. "I am not aware of any such letter but if this is true, then it is unfortunate. They all have worked with the party for so long and the move of the letter is uncalled for," Gehlot said.

Rahul if not Sonia, say Congress other leaders

Some Congress leaders are pressing for the Gandhi scion's return as chief.

Harish Rawat, former Uttarakhand chief minister also said in a Facebook post on Sunday, "Sonia Gandhi Ji has always lifted Congress from difficulties and even today, party workers have faith that under her guidance, we will emerge as the single largest party again," adding, "Rahul Gandhi is such a leader who is able to lead the country for decades to come."

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath said any suggestion or insinuation that Sonia Gandhi's leadership is in question is absurd. The party's Rajya Sabha MP and himself former MP CM, Digvijaya Singh added, "If Sonia Ji wants to leave the post of party president, then Rahul Ji should leave his stubbornness and accept the post of party president."

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah tweeted, "I am confident that RahulGandhi, under the guidance of Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders, will successfully lead Indian National Congress party. Even our party workers feel the same".

AICC secretary for Maharashtra Challa Vamshi Chand Reddy said any delay in Rahul Gandhi's reinstatement would be at the cost of the Congress.

Lok Sabha MP Manickam Tagore too demanded Rahul Gandhi's return as Congress president.

The Delhi unit of the Congress also held an "emergency" meeting presided by its chief Anil Kumar and passed a resolution demanding that Rahul Gandhi be appointed as the party's national president without further delay, a statement said.

Haryana PCC chief Kumari Selja also wrote a letter in support of Sonia Gandhi in which she wrote, "The sacrifices Gandhi-Nehru family has made for India, the country will forever be indebted. Today, the country needs your and Rahul Gandhi Ji's guidance the most".

Sachin Pilot wrote "Mrs Gandhi and Rahul Ji have shown what it means to sacrifice for the greater good of the people and the party. It's now time to build consensus and consolidate. Our future is stronger when we're united. Most Congress workers would like to see Rahul Ji take over and lead the party".

Patidar leader Hardik Patel issued a call for "MyLeaderRahulGandhi". In a tweet on Sunday, Patel said, "The guidance of Rahul Gandhi is very important for the reconstruction of India and the strength of the Congress party. The nation trusts Rahul Gandhi who advocates brotherhood and not hatred, works with a sense of change and not revenge."

KS Alagiri, chief of Tamil Nadu PCC also joined in the chorus. He said in a tweet, "Mother Sonia Ji's leadership should continue. She is the binding force of the nation in south, north, west and east. Rahul Ji and Sonia Ji are followed by millions of Congress party cadres and people of the nation."

Shashi Tharoor put out a cryptic tweet quoting Jawaharlal Nehru that said we have become prisoners of the past.

"Without passion and urge, there is a gradual oozing out of hope and vitality, a settling down on lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence. We have become prisoners of the past and some part of its immobility sticks to us," he tweeted.