Outgoing Congress chief Sonia Gandhi celebrates 71st birthday as son Rahul steps in

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury recently called Sonia Gandhi the “glue” that binds the Congress as well as the opposition.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2017 11:40 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi (right) with her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. (PTI FILE PHOTO)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who turned 71 on Saturday, will hand over the reins of the grand old party to her son Rahul Gandhi next week.

For the past two years now, Sonia, who held the post for a record 19 consecutive years, has taken a backseat and the party was virtually managed by the 47-year Rahul who cleared all appointments.

She has also stayed away from the party’s election campaign this year.

However, Congress sources said Sonia will continue to guide the party, albeit in a different role.

Rahul took a break from his hectic campaigning in Gujarat to be with his mother on her birthday.

Congress leaders took to Twitter to wish the outgoing party chief.

“Compassionate, hardworking, selfless. Calm and composed, yet dignified and strong. A force for empowerment against all odds. A mother, a leader, a friend. Wishing Congress President Sonia Gandhi a very happy birthday,” the party wrote on its Twitter handle.

A binding force for the Congress and known for her ability to build alliances, Sonia could take the role of its chief patron or head the Congress Parliamentary Party.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury recently called Sonia the “glue” that binds the Congress as well as the opposition. He also credited her with playing a critical role in the formation of the UPA in 2004.

Sonia also played a key task in bringing 18 opposition parties together for this year’s presidential and vice-presidential elections. Her aggressive stand on the land acquisition bill in 2015 forced the government to withdraw the controversial ordinance and shelve the idea of bringing a new legislation.

However, Rahul’s elevation will put an end to criticism that the Congress was falling in confusion between the two power centres though party leaders had maintained that the combination of mature and youthful leadership was an ideal solution that had put them in a comfortable position.

Such an agreement existed in the Congress in the past as well, they said, and cited the example of Rajiv Gandhi who served as a general secretary for four years when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister and Congress president from 1980-84.

Congress leaders indicated that Sonia is unlikely to seek re-election from Rae Bareli in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 11:40 IST