Sonia Gandhi, interim chief of the Congress for three years, is likely to be back to a calmer schedule now that the party’s internal elections are over. “She will remain the Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party,” sources in the party told NDTV.
Sonia Gandhi was elected as Chairperson of Congress Parliamentary Party in June 2019.
As Chief of the Parliamentary Party, Mrs Gandhi will decide on who will replace Mallikarjun Kharge as the leader of the party in Rajya Sabha.
Mr Kharge, who succeeded her in the top post today, had to step down from the upper house post in line with the party’s “One man one post” rule.
“Sonia Gandhi, who took the reins of the party in August 2019 after Rahul Gandhi’s resignation, only used the designation ‘Chairperson, Congress Parliamentary Party’ in all her formal communications till date,” said a senior leader of the party. Even in her letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she has never called herself the Congress President, he added.
The advent of Mr Kharge, a Gandhi family loyalist perceived to be the approved candidate, also envisages the likelihood of an advisory role for Mrs Gandhi. Mr Kharge has been emphatic that he would take the help of the Gandhis when needed. “There is no shame in that,” he had told reporters.
Today Rahul Gandhi said while he would report to party chief Mr Kharge, “The president will decide what my role is and how I am to be deployed… that you have to ask Kharge ji and Sonia ji”.
Sonia Gandhi, 75, had stepped back from the party’s internal affairs after handing charge to Rahul Gandhi in December 2017. But she had to make a return after he quit the top post in August 2019, taking responsibility for its two successive routs in general elections and refused all entreaties to reconsider.
At the time, the Congress had concluded that the leader who led the UPA to two consecutive victories, would breathe fresh life into the party. Mrs Gandhi’s advent at the helm, however, did not halt the slide of the party, which lost a string of elections in the states in the last three years.
The upshot was multiple calls for change, exits by big leaders and even open rebellion, as happened recently in Rajasthan by loyalists of Ashok Gehlot over the post of the Rajasthan Chief Minister.
“I have been waiting for a long time for this day,” Mrs Gandhi said on Monday after casting her vote for the internal election. Today, in a reversal of norm, she also visited Mallikarjun Kharge to congratulate him for his victory.