The possibility of a meeting in May of the Congress Working Committee as also of the AICC either in Delhi or in party-ruled Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand is being talked about for that purpose with senior leaders saying the issue of the Congress chief’s post will gain momentum after the return of Rahul, the party’s vice president.
Amid a raging debate over Rahul’s prolonged absence, Congress on March 26 came out with the schedule for its organisational elections under which the next party chief would be elected by September 30.
Party leaders insist that after his return likely next month from leave, Rahul is expected to take a call on when to assume the party chief’s post. They added that the earlier he does it, the better it will be.
If Rahul decides to become party chief, Sonia will continue as the Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party and give her focus to parliamentary work.
The schedule for organisational elections was drawn up even as talk is growing within the party that sooner rather than later, Sonia will pass the mantle to Rahul, who was made Congress Vice President in January, 2013.
Gandhi was elevated to that post at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Jaipur with the decision having been ratified by AICC the next day.
That same process could be followed if it is decided to make him the party chief and the organisational elections would not come in the way, said some leaders.
There was speculation that Rahul could any moment now be anointed the Congress president, but his departure on leave just ahead of the Budget session had raised questions as to his future plans.
Sonia has created a record of being the longest-serving Congress chief as she completed 17 years at the helm of the country’s oldest political party.
During a visit yesterday to Rahul’s Lok Sabha constituency Amethi, Sonia told the media that the Congress Vice President will be “back soon”.
Sonia had assumed the post of Congress president amid a complete collapse faced by it in 1998 with BJP in the ascendant. She had replaced the late Sitaram Kesri in the seat.
The organisational polls are being held at a time when Congress is looking to recover from its worst debacle in the Lok Sabha elections after being at the top for a decade since coming to power in 2004.
It could manage just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha elections last year.
The schedule for organisational elections, under which the next Congress chief is to be elected by September 30, was released by the AICC last week.
A highlight of the new schedule is that, for the first time, the party polls will be held in two phases.