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‘Start Process To Select My Replacement’: Sonia Offers To Quit As Cong President During CWC Meet

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Interim Congress 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.

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.

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

When asked to put forth his view, Azad read out the letter and asked which part of it is an attack on Sonia or Rahul Gandhi. Azad said he can never undermine Sonia or contribution of Nehru-Gandhi family to the Congress. Says Sonia’s hard work in building the party, bringing it to power in 2004/2009 is a matter of record, doesn’t need validation from anyone.

“Changes demanded are purely organizational and in keeping with spirit of CWC resolution passed when Sonia took over as interim chief which had called for extensive overhaul,” Azad said.

Sources said 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.

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