NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi offered to step down as interim Congress chief on Sunday, a day before the crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, after 23 leaders shot off a letter seeking a change in leadership. According to sources, Sonia told General Secretary Organisation K C Venugopal to convey this to the party leaders who wrote the letter.
As per party rules, the Congress chief has to send resignation to the CWC. Sources said she will do so on Monday at the CWC meeting, even as Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala denied reports of Sonia resigning.
Following the dissent letter by a group of senior party leaders, several party men including Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel, as well as several state Congress chiefs rallied behind the Gandhis.
They called upon Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins in the event of Sonia stepping down.
However, sources said Rahul Gandhi is unwilling to lead the party.
They added that at the CWC, Sonia will be requested to continue to lead the party while a process is rolled out to look for a new chief and restructure the organisation starting with the CWC.
Sources revealed the reason the letter was leaked a day before the CWC meet was because many senior leaders feel sidelined as Rahul continues to call the shots in all major party decisions.
He, along with sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, also attacked party leaders for not supporting the former party chief for taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They want the matter to be discussed in the CWC and a process for organisation restructuring to be rolled out soon,” said a senior party leader.
Sonia took over as interim chief on August 10, 2019 after Rahul stepped down taking responsibility for the party’s Lok Sabha debacle.
“She was reluctant and was convinced to lead the party for the time being while the party would start the process to look for a new chief but that did not happen,” said a senior party leader.
Sacked party leader Sanjay Jha, who had initially raised an alarm about such a letter being sent to Sonia, said on Sunday around 300 Congress leaders from all over the country, representing all regions and states are signatories to the letter, over and above the 23 seniors already in the public domain.
The issue of leadership vacuum was raised by several party leaders at various foras and even during a parliamentary party meeting with Sonia last month.
Leaders who have written to Sonia include senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Mukul Wasnik, Shashi Tharoor, Prithviraj Chavan and P J Kurien.