Sonia Gandhi puts a stop to retirement talk, says will continue as CPP chief

There was intense speculation about Sonia Gandhi retiring after her son Rahul took over as Congress president in December last year.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2018 13:55 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi,Sonia Gandhi retirement,Rahul Gandhi
File photo of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi at an election rally in Kolkata. (HT)

Putting an end to the talk of her retirement, Sonia Gandhi on Thursday indicated she would continue to play an important role in the party and help Congress president Rahul Gandhi in stitching a broad-based anti-BJP alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“As for myself, as chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party, I will work with the Congress president and other colleagues in discussions with like-minded, political parties to ensure that in the next election, the BJP is defeated...,” she said at a meeting of the party MPs.

There was intense speculation about Gandhi’s role after her “retirement” remarks in December. “My role now is to retire,” she had said when asked about her involvement in the Congress after her son, Rahul Gandhi, took over as the party chief from her.

The Congress had then promptly clarified that Gandhi, who served as the party Congress chief for a record 19 years, was only retiring as the Congress president and not from active politics.

Senior functionaries, however, had said the Congress president had been doubling up as the parliamentary party chief since the times of Indira Gandhi.

Soon after her brother took over as the Congress president on December 16, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had dismissed speculation that she would be the party candidate from her mother’s Rae Bareli constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“There is no question of me contesting from Rae Bareli…my mother will contest from there,” she had said.

The 71-year-old Gandhi has represented Rae Bareli since 2004 and Vadra has been managing the constituency for many years now.

A binding force for the Congress and known for her ability to stitch alliances, Gandhi could be a guiding force for the opposition parties.

In 2004, she played a key role in the formation of the United Progressive Alliance that went on to rule the country for 10 years.

CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury had recently called Gandhi the “glue” that bound the Congress as well as the opposition. She continues to be the chairperson of the much-truncated UPA.

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 13:29 IST