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Sonia Gandhi To Be Congress President, Decides Top Body Meeting: 10 Points
CWC meeting: The Congress's state units and the legislature parties are taking part in today's meeting.
NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi will be the new Congress president, the party's top decision-making body, the Working Committee, decided today after a meeting to choose her son Rahul Gandhi's successor as the party chief. Rahul Gandhi had announced his decision to quit the party's top post in May after its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha election. This morning, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had excused themselves from the zonal body meetings, saying they cannot be part of the selection process.
Here's your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:
Sources said the sub-committees wanted Rahul Gandhi to continue as the party chief.
The party's veteran leader Mukul Wasnik - known to be close to Sonia Gandhi - was ahead in the race for the job. The other contender was Mallikarjun Kharge, who was the party's leader in the Lok Sabha during the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
Earlier today, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi refused to take part in the selection process, saying they did not want to complicate the issue or "play favourites". "It is a mistake that our names were added to the (zonal) groups," Sonia Gandhi told reporters.
Sonia Gandhi had been placed in the eastern zonal committee. Rahul Gandhi was named as part of the zonal committee for western India - Maharashtra is the largest state where elections will be held next.
The Congress's state units and the legislature parties took part in a marathon meet that went on through the day. The committees represent the east, north-east, south, west and north zones. There was suspense over whether the party will elect its new leader or go by nomination, as it happened traditionally.
Rahul Gandhi was said to be in favour of a broad consultation before zeroing in on a candidate. At a meeting of Congress leaders on Friday, Mr Gandhi said a new Congress president should be chosen after more consultation with state leaders and the legislature party, sources said.
The election comes ahead of a string of state elections later this year. There has been criticism that the party's inability to sort out the leadership issue has drawn attention away from these key elections - the first since the Lok Sabha elections. It has also upset the leaders and workers and an exodus is likely if the matter was not sorted, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor has warned.
The Congress had been decimated in the Lok Sabha elections, winning only 52 seats - a marginal increase over its score of 44 in the 2014 election. Accentuating the defeat, Mr Gandhi's had lost his traditional family turf Amethi to the BJP's Smriti Irani.
Insisting that "accountability" must be maintained, Rahul Gandhi announced his decision to step down at a closed-door meeting of the Working Committee on May 25. He also ruled out his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's taking over the top post, underscoring that the Congress must look for a non-Gandhi leader.
For most of its 134-year history, the Congress always had the Gandhis at the helm, except for several years in the 90s after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. But the party did not do well under Sitaram Kesri and several leaders convinced Sonia Gandhi to lead it.
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