Sonia, Rahul Gandhi Opt Out Of Process To Pick Congress Party Chief
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi during Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at AICC Headquarters in New Delhi, India (Source: PTI)

Sonia, Rahul Gandhi Opt Out Of Process To Pick Congress Party Chief

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United Progressive Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi and outgoing party head Rahul Gandhi left the Congress Working Committee meet midway, saying they couldn't be part of the process of selecting the party’s next president.

"We cannot be part of this process," Sonia Gandhi said after she recused herself from the deliberations. Rahul Gandhi left soon after, saying he would be visiting his parliamentary constituency Wayanad in Kerala, which is currently ravaged by heavy rains.

Sonia Gandhi said her name was included by default in the region-wise committees formed for wider consultations on selecting a new party chief. The CWC has decided to have consultations with leaders from across the country and the party's top decision-making body then was divided into five groups for different regions -- northeast, east, north, west and south.

Rahul Gandhi, while resigning as the party president on May 25, had asked the CWC to elect a president from outside his family. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is a Congress general secretary.

Also read: Leadership Crisis Hurting Congress, Not Its Stand On J&K Issue, Says Shashi Tharoor

The names of senior Congress leaders Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge, as well as younger leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot are doing the rounds for the top post. Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora earlier this week batted for either Scindia or Pilot to succeed Rahul Gandhi. A number of partymen have expressed their opinion in public, saying the delay in selecting the new Congress chief is harming the party.

Earlier, Tharoor had said the Congress Working Committee or CWC should appoint an interim president immediately and then hold polls for the party chief's post as a leader elected by workers will be empowered and have more credibility.

Interestingly, even though Rahul Gandhi had ruled out the possibility of a family member succeeding him, several leaders such as Punjab chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Tharoor have voiced support for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra throwing her hat in the ring.

The party has also been grappling with a series of desertions by leaders from Karnataka and Maharashtra, the latest being that of ex-Congress Rajya Sabha chief whip Bhubaneswar Kalita and MP Sanjay Sinh. Several leaders cited indecision and confusion within the rank and file of the party as a reason to quit. The party is hoping to resolve the leadership issue and move forward quickly with assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana coming up.

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