NEW DELHI: Amid demands from within the Congress for appointing a full-fledged party chief, top sources in the party said on Monday that only Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the highest decision-making body of the party, the Congress Working Committee, would decide when to effect the change.
"The decision has to be taken by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and nobody can second-guess it," said a top party source.
On Monday when the Parliament session began, Rahul was seen leading the MPs to protest outside the Gandhi statue against the Delhi riots. The MPs demanded resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah.
After the protest, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi left by the same vehicle from Parliament.
On Sunday former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar suggested that Rahul Gandhi should "soon" take over the party.
Several other Congress leaders too have been saying that as the six-month period for electing a new party chief is already over, as per the party constitution, the Congress should elect a new president at the earliest.
Sonia Gandhi is Interim President of the party and needs ratification from the All India Congress Committee to continue as the full-time party chief. Sonia was named the interim party chief on August 10 by the Congress Working Committee after Rahul quit the post following the debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party should have elected the new leader by Feb 10.
Senior party leader Anand Sharma said recently that "there is no crisis of leadership within the party."
Party sources said the AICC session is likely after the conclusion of the Budget session of Parliament on April 3. Sources said Rahul Gandhi is set to be re-appointed the party chief.
Meanwhile, the cacophony over the issue has only intensified with one section supporting the continuation of Sonia Gandhi at the helm and the other demanding a return of Rahul Gandhi. There is another section that wants Priyanka Gandhi to be elevated to the top party post.
Then, there are several party leaders such as Shashi Tharoor and Sandeep Dikshit who want the party to look beyond the 'first Congress family.'
"The party needs a leader who can infuse new life and set a new direction following two consecutive general election defeats," said a party leader.
"However, an overwhelming consensus in the party is that Sonia Gandhi should be made the party president for the foreseeable future," said Manish Tewari, adding, "we should look for another president only after sorting out ideological issues, which might take more than a year".