The Congress Working Committee has appointed Sonia Gandhi as the interim president on Saturday. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad confirmed to the media after the meeting ended.
AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal during a media briefing said that the CWC unanimously wanted to Rahul Gandhi to work as the party's chief but since he declined they requested Sonia Gandhi to take over until the new president was elected. He added that Sonia Gandhi agreed to the proposal, thereby becoming the interim Congress president.
"Congress Working Committee unanimously resolved that Rahul Gandhi should continue as Congress president and requested him to accept this decision, however, he declined to withdraw his resignation.Congress Working Committee (CWC) unanimously resolved to request Sonia Gandhi to take over as the Interim President, pending the election of a regular president by the AICC," he said.
Rahul Gandhi said to the media that the agenda of the meeting digressed towards the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Rahul Gandhi spoke to the media saying that he was called midway as the party received concerning reports from Jammu and Kashmir.
"I was called by the Congress Working Committee because between the work they were doing to choose the next president some reports have come that things in Jammu and Kashmir are going very wrong, there are reports of people dying in Kashmir. We stopped the deliberation on Congress chief and had a presentation on what was going on in Jammu and Kashmir. It is very important that the government and Prime Minister makes it very clear and transparent exactly what is happening in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and must tell the country what was happening. We are extremely concerned about reports that are coming and government needs to assuage the country and tell what happened and be completely transparent."
Sources to Republic had said that reports of all the five committees were supposed to be submitted and taken up for consideration by CWC. Sources had said committees proposed the name of Rahul Gandhi once again. Even the committee in which Priyanka was there has proposed Rahul Gandhi's name. The party's top decision-making body had reconvened at 8 pm to discuss reports of five groups, formed earlier in the day, to scrutinise names of potential successor to Rahul Gandhi, but failed to come to a final decision.
Senior party leader Anand Sharma thanked Gandhi for accepting the post of the interim chief.
Congress leader from Assam Gaurav Gogoi welcomed the decision to make Gandhi the interim president.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) met for the second time on Saturday evening to take a final call on the new party president after a number of leaders, including state chiefs and MPs, backed Rahul Gandhi to continue on the post despite his refusal to reconsider his resignation.
Sources said during the process of consultation with state PCC chiefs, Congress legislature party leaders and party MPs, there was a consensus on Rahul Gandhi continuing as party chief. However, Gandhi had in the morning asserted that he would not take back his resignation, after CWC members unanimously urged him to reconsider. During the wider consultation process, only a few suggested other names while a majority of them said the party will face desertions if Rahul Gandhi does not remain the leader. Some even told Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to prevail upon Rahul to reconsider his May 25 resignation.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had recused themselves from the consultation process saying they cannot be part of it as they have been Congress presidents in the past and would not like the opinion of the party leaders to be influenced in any manner. "There is process of consultation and naturally Rahul ji and myself, we cannot be part of that consultation," Sonia Gandhi told reporters. Asked how their names were in the sub-groups for consultations, she said, "That's obviously a mistake, because we cannot be in that."
At 11 am, the Congress' top brass, including ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh, party general secretaries Priyanka Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and P Chidambaram, went into a huddle at the All India Congress Committee headquarters here. The CWC decided to have consultations with leaders from across the country and it was divided into five groups for different regions -- northeast, east, north, west and south.
The CWC group for the northeast region included top party leaders such as Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat. The group for eastern region included AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, ex-Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and former Union minister Kumari Selja. The northern region group included Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Jyotiraditya Scindia and P Chidambaram. The western region group was has leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, A K Antony and Motilal Vora. The group for the southern region included Manmohan Singh, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy were also part of the consultation process.