NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday, interim chief Sonia Gandhi has communicated to members of the party’s highest decision-making body that she was not interested in continuing and asked them to find a new chief, sources said, even as two Chief Ministers have come out to back the Gandhis’ leadership.
Congress Communication Department chief Randeep Surjewala, however, denied any such move, saying nothing has been communicated by the interim President or said on her behalf.
A top aide of Sonia Gandhi too denied any such move and said that everything will depend on the Congress Working Committee meet. The Gandhi family has found strong backing from Punjab and Chhatisgarh Chief Ministers, with the former, Captain Amarinder Singh saying that “this is not the right time to raise this demand (of a leadership change)”.
His Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel has urged Rahul Gandhi to return as the party’s leader. State Congress units are likely to hold emergency meetings to back the Gandhis for the top post. Even some of the leaders who have written a letter to the party, said that there is no dispute on the leadership issue of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
The pro-Gandhi brigade is likely to take on the dissenters in the CWC meet, while many names have started doing the rounds, especially two Dalit leaders – Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushilkumar Shinde, as likely replacements if Sonia Gandhi doesn’t want to continue.
While Kharge is close to Rahul Gandhi, Shinde has been a former Home Minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister.
Sources say that a collective system may also be proposed or a team of leaders may be appointed as Vice Presidents to assist Sonia Gandhi in case there is no consensus on the change of the leadership and Rahul Gandhi does not want to return to the leadership role.