Sonia Gandhi likely to be chief patron of Congress

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

india Updated: Nov 20, 2017 23:34 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Congress president,Sonia Gandhi
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi, senior leader AK Antony and other party leaders at the Congress Working Committee meeting at 10 Janpath in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The anointment of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president will herald a new era in the 131-year-old party and also draw the curtains on more than 19 years of uninterrupted tenure of Sonia Gandhi.

However, Congress sources said Sonia, who turns 71 on December 9, will continue to guide the party albeit in a different role. 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 role in bringing 18 opposition parties together for this year’s Presidential and Vice-Presidential polls. Her 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 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 earlier also, 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 to 84.

For the past two years, Sonia had taken a back seat and the party was virtually managed by Rahul who cleared all appointments in states as well as the national level. She has also stayed away from the party’s election campaign this year.

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

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 22:37 IST