The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, on Monday appreciated Sonia Gandhi's “deft handling of the complex process” of selecting UPA's presidential nominee.
At a CWC meeting called to bid farewell to UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee from the party, AK Antony, RK Dhawan and Mohsina Kidwai said Gandhi showed exemplary leadership qualities by taking everybody on board on the issue.
"But for her strong leadership, presidential elections could have been tough,” the speakers said as others endorsed it.
Earlier, the CWC gave an emotional farewell to one of its oldest members. Mukherjee was inducted into the CWC in 1978. Many Congress leaders drew a parallel between Monday's meeting to the one held five years ago on June 20, 2007, to introduce then UPA presidential nominee Pratibha Patil to CWC members.
At the meeting attended by 30 out of 36 members, Gandhi lauded Mukherjee for his contribution to the party and the UPA government.
“Party's loss is nation's gain,” she observed and in a lighter vein went on to say that “apart from his wisdom and prudence we will also miss his tantrums”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too talked about his long association with Mukherjee and said his absence would be felt. Singh said he used to consult Mukherjee whenever he faced any problem.
Thanking Gandhi and the members for their unflinching support, a visibly emotional Mukherjee said he got much more from the party than what he had given.
At the high tea, Gandhi had arranged 'sandesh', the popular Bengali sweetmeat, for the outgoing finance minister.