The final decision on the top leadership of the Congress – whether Sonia Gandhi will stay on permanently as party chief or a new president will be appointed – will be taken at the party’s plenary session, sources told NDTV. The session is expected to be held before the second week of April.
It is still not clear whether Rahul Gandhi will take over as Congress president this time. Sources close to him say he is yet to take a call on whether to return as the party chief.
But Mrs Gandhi’s indifferent health has been a cause of concern and the need for an active president has been felt even more keenly felt after the Delhi elections.
The Congress, which ruled Delhi for three consecutive terms, has failed to win a single seat in 2015. Not only did it fail to win any this time also, but 63 of its candidates lost their deposit for failing to win the mandatory minimum number of votes.
As backlash started from the party’s young brigade demanding action, its state party chief PC Chacko blamed Sheila Dikshit — the widely respected three-time Chief Minister who died last year — for the state of affairs, exposing the factionalism and the blame game that has felled the party from within.
The Congress has been on a slippery slope since its decimation in last year’s Lok Sabha election. The instability had increased after Rahul Gandhi decided to step down, asking the party to choose a non-Gandhi leader for the top post.
But the party’s working committee – the highest decision making body — decided to fall back on Sonia Gandhi. A party president for 19 years, Sonia Gandhi had significantly reduced her public engagements since Rahul Gandhi took over as the party chief. But at the party’s insistence, she reluctantly agreed to be the interim president.
For most of its 134-year history, the Congress always had the Gandhis at the helm, except for several years in the ’90s after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. But the party did not do well under Sitaram Kesri and several leaders had convinced Sonia Gandhi to lead it.