Sonia Gandhi offers to quit as interim chief, but Dr Singh, Anthony opposes

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New Delhi: An anticipated, the Congress party’s  Interim  President Sonia Gandhi on Monday offered to quit, asking the Congress Working Committee to initiate the process for selecting a new party chief, sources said.  But, it was stoutly opposed to by senior leaders like Dr Manmohan Singh, her handpicked prime minister for two terms, as well most trusted Defence Minister A K Anthony, who religiously followed her diktat, which includes dodging of purchase of Rafael fighter jets as the party had an agreement with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In her opening remarks at the meeting, called in the wake of a section of leaders seeking a “full time and visible” Congress president, Sonia Gandhi made the offer to quit saying she had given a detailed reply on the issue to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke after Gandhi, urged her to continue, so did former Defence Minister A K Antony, with both the veterans criticising the letter by some party leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, who are a part of the CWC, the party’s highest decision-making body.  The melodrama, as usual continued with another senior party leader Kapil Sibal, expressing his displeasure over Rahul’s castigating remarks through a tweet, which was later withdrawn after party spokesperson, a Gandhi loyalist Randeep Sirjwala’s clarification.  Even Ghulam Nabi Azad was peeved by Rahul’s uncharitable remarks that those who wrote letter are BJP supporters.

Sources said Sonia Gandhi referred to Azad and others twice during her brief address and the issues raised by them.

She also handed over a detailed reply to Venugopal, who read out its contents at the CWC meeting in which Gandhi sought to be relieved from the post

Sources added that Rahul Gandhi in his speech also questioned the timing of the letter, which was sent to Sonia Gandhi when she was in Gangaram hospital and under medication

“It is the CWC and not the media where we put out our thoughts and discuss,” he is learnt to have said at the meeting, the sources said

The crucial meeting of the Working Committee started here amid divisions in the party over the leadership issue

The party is divided on the leadership matter with a section demanding collective leadership and another reposing faith in the Gandhi family

Around 20 party leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi demanding a full-time, visible president and overhauling of the organisational structure including elections to the CWC and reconstitution of the Parliamentary board.?

There has been a huge outpouring of support for the Gandhis with party leaders from across the country urging her to continue as party chief or appoint Rahul Gandhi to the post.

Today’s meeting clearly indicate that Congress cannot survive without Gandhis tag and none of the senior are willing to bell the cat and quite often seen succumbing to pressure to speak out against the party leadership.

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