Sonia Gandhi named interim Congress president after Rahul Gandhi refuses post

The Congress Working Committee late on Saturday named Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandh its interim working president. Her son, former Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi, had refused the post following the party’s huge loss in the General Elections earlier this year.

However, reports said that earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi had refused to be part of the process to find its next president.

Reports had also claimed the five region-wise committees formed by the party earlier on Saturday had proposed that Rahul Gandhi be made party president again. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the decision-making body had asked Rahul Gandhi to remain party chief, but he had refused.

Former Union ministers Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushil Kumar Shinde were among the frontrunners for the post, according to several reports.

“We cannot be part of this process,” Sonia Gandhi had 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 instead visit his parliamentary constituency Wayanad, in Kerala, to take stock of the flood situation.

The CWC formed five region-wise committees to discuss with leaders across the country to select the next chief.

The Gandhis were included in all five groups – Northeast, East, North, West and South. Sonia Gandhi was made part of the eastern zonal committee while Rahul Gandhi’s name was included in the zonal committee for western India.

Last week, former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora had suggested Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot for the post, while Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Shashi Tharoor had recommended 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, he had remained firm on his decision despite several top leaders urging him to continue leading the party.