Sonia’s call, formal appointment expected on Nov 19
GN BUREAU | NEW DELHI | NOVEMBER 01 2011
The stage is all set to anoint Rahul Gandhi as Congress president. His raj tilak may take place as early as on Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary — November 19, a top Congress source has disclosed.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sonia Gandhi may step down as the party president at a specially convened meet of the Congress working committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, proposing Rahul’s name as her successor. The CWC will, in turn, make her the ‘Congress president emeritus’.
The transition has been on the cards for quite some time since Sonia had to rush to the US for a surgery in July. She has been taking it easy since return and involving her the 41-year-old son more and more in the decision making.
Rahul, who has been a Congress general secretary for the last seven years, has also started playing a role in governance in place of his mother, guiding the government on crucial matters requiring the political decisions.
Sonia, however, indicated to some close aides on Monday that the informal arrangement is not enough as she has to still take the final decisions and hence she wants to formalise it by calling a CWC meeting at the earliest. Rahul’s appointment will have to be ratified by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) by convening a session to meet the constitutional requirement.
Inquiries at the AICC headquarters here, however, showed the word is still not out of 10 Janpath about the imminent transfer of power as everyone drew blank. “Yes, many are pressurising her to give bigger responsibility to Rahul, but we do not yet have any indication that she has agreed except asking him to share some of her responsibilities,” a senior party leader said.
While many wanted Rahul to take over as the party’s working president before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections after he indicated that he was not yet ready to be the prime minister, Sonia felt he had graduated enough to take full responsibility as the party president to relieve her, the source said.
The 64-year-old Sonia has been the party president for 13 years, since March 1998, and has been a member of the Lok Sabha for the last three terms (since 1999), that includes re-election from Rai Bareli in 2007. Rahul campaigned alongside her for the first time in 1999 and has been elected to the Lok Sabha for the second term.
Indications are that Sonia would continue to be the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and also continue to head the National Advisory Council (NAC), the responsibility she reassumed in January last year after a three-year gap.
She also heads five family trusts as chairperson of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, Swaraj Bhavan Trust and Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital Society, besides being a member of the council of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and trustee of the Jalianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.
Rahul has also been inducted in most of these trusts and has been handling their functioning lately since Sonia withdrew because of her health issues.
Member, Action Committee Against Corruption in India (ACACI)