Sonia, Rahul Gandhi walk out of meeting to pick new Congress chief

New Delhi, August 10: The internal meeting organised by the All India Congress Committee to choose the next president following Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step done, had some embarrassing moments for the party men when both Rahul and mother Sonia Gandhi walked out.

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The meeting was aimed at giving the party a free hand to choose Rahul’s successor. Sonia Gandhi said they did not want to complicate the issue or “play favourites”.

“It is a mistake that our names were added to the groups,” Sonia Gandhi told reporters, referring to zonal groups that are expected to play a key role in the selection process.

Both leaders were made part of the zonal groups – formed at Mr Gandhi’s suggestion that a broader consultation should be conducted before a new leader is chosen.

Sonia Gandhi was made part of the eastern zonal committee. Rahul Gandhi was named as part of the zonal committee for western India – Maharashtra which is the largest state where elections will be held next.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who entered active politics ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, however, attended the session. The 46-year-old — who was made the Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh — is a part of the committee for the north zone.

There have been demands for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take charge of the party. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was the first to call for the step. But Rahul Gandhi ruled it out, saying the party cannot rope in his mother or sister for the top job.

Rahul Gandhi had quit the party’s top job after its devastating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress had been able to win only 52 seats – a marginal increase over its score of 44 in the 2014 election. Mr Gandhi’s had lost his traditional family turf Amethi to the BJP’s Smriti Irani, party stalwarts like Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia were also defeated.

But the Congress – led by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family for most of its 130-odd years -had refused to accept Rahul Gandhi’s decision. Today’s meeting was held after it became known that the party workers and leaders are upset with the uncertainty.

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