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Year on, Congress yet to get regular president; Sonia Gandhi remains at helm

Sources said Rahul’s much-speculated return to the helm will depend on the convening of an All India Congress Committee (AICC) session. Those close to Rahul say only an AICC plenary session can re-elect him since he had stepped down.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: August 10, 2020 1:35:05 am
Sonia Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi Congress president, Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, indian express Sonia Gandhi had taken over as interim chief on August 10 last year after Rahul Gandhi resigned. (File)

On August 10 last year, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) appointed Sonia Gandhi interim president of the party, “pending the election of a regular president by the AICC”, after her son Rahul stepped down from the top post.

A year later, the grand old party is yet to find a “regular” president. At an official briefing on Sunday, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Sonia’s “tenure” is expiring Monday and at the same time, added that it did not mean the seat automatically falls vacant that same day. “Sonia Gandhi is the president…she will continue till such time as a proper procedure is implemented and it will be implemented in the not too distant future,” Singhvi said.

Sources said Rahul’s much-speculated return to the helm will depend on the convening of an All India Congress Committee (AICC) session. Those close to Rahul say only an AICC plenary session can re-elect him since he had stepped down. Convening an AICC session now is not possible due to Covid-19, sources said.

In other words, it means Sonia will continue as party chief for some more time, although several party leaders now feel the party should end the uncertainty over its leadership at the earliest. While some leaders speculated that a CWC meeting will now have to be convened to extend her tenure, the party believed the CWC had not mentioned any specific time frame when it asked Sonia to take over as interim president last year.

In that context, Singhvi’s statement evoked surprise. Earlier, PTI quoted Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor saying “it’s unfair to expect her (Sonia) carry this burden indefinitely”, and argued that the party should arrest the growing public perception, fuelled by a dismissive media, that the Congress is adrift and rudderless.

At the briefing, Singhvi said “there is no point giving simple views”.

“Just like nature abhors a vacuum, political parties cannot function in a vacuum. It is true that the tenure is expiring tomorrow, but there is a laid down procedure… if anybody is suggesting that the Congress will become headless on the stroke of midnight on 10th of August I think you have to only ask yourself, is it possible…”

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