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Sonia Gandhi to remain as Congress chief despite poll debacle, reports Asian Lite News

Days after its poll debacle in five states, Congress’ top decision-making body – Congress Working Committee – on Sunday brainstormed over the way forward amid calls for large-scale reforms to revive the party’s dwindling electoral fortunes.

After a four-and-half-hour meeting, the CWC decided that Sonia Gandhi will continue as the party president.

Apart from Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, K C Venugopal, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and P Chidambaram were among those who attended the CWC meeting.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik were the only three from the Group of 23 leaders who participated in the meeting of the CWC, which has a large number of Gandhi family loyalists.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not attend the meeting. Senior party leader A K Antony was also not present as he has contracted Covid.

After the party’s working committee meeting, Kharge said, “Congress interim president Sonia will lead us and will take future steps. We all have faith in her leadership.”

On how to take things forward, AICC Goa in-charge, Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “Sonia Gandhi continues to be the president of the party. Detailed discussion held about the five states elections. We discussed how to take things forward and how we prepare for the forthcoming elections.”

The Congress lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party, could not wrest Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur from the BJP and the party’s tally in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh fell to its lowest.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, KC Venugopal and A.K. Antony during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting (IANS)

While Sonia Gandhi has not been actively campaigning for some time, Rahul Gandhi, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, had been the star campaigner for the Congress in the polls, with the brother-sister duo also playing a major role in key decisions of the party.

Despite a high-pitched campaign led by Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress could manage to win only two of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh with the vote share plummeting to a meagre 2.33 percent and most of its candidates losing security deposits.

Ahead of the meeting, the chorus for making Rahul Gandhi Congress president again grew louder as several leaders and workers voiced support for him to take on the mantle of party chief.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said no one was taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Rahul Gandhi does and was fighting resolutely.

“The prime minister has to start his speech after targeting Rahul Gandhi, you can understand what this means. All of us want that Rahul ji should take on the mantle of party leadership,” Gehlot said while speaking to reporters.

Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar also backed the idea to make Gandhi the party chief.

“As I have said it earlier as well, Rahul Gandhi should take up the Congress presidency in a full time role immediately. This is the wish of millions of Congress workers like me,” he tweeted.

Congress workers from around Delhi, who converged near the party office, were not allowed to enter the AICC headquarter as traffic was held up and the road outside the party office was barricaded by the police.

A group led by Delhi Congress leaders, including Alka Lamba, voiced support for Rahul Gandhi to lead the party and raised slogans in his and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s favour.

Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in general elections in 2019. Sonia Gandhi, who took over the reins of the party again as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after strong criticism by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.

Earlier in the day, top Congress leaders discussed the party’s strategy for the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament and decided to work in coordination with other like-minded parties to raise issues of public importance.

The meeting of the Congress Parliamentary strategy group was held at the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi.

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