- Rahul Gandhi questioned timing of letter written by over 20 top leaders
- He asked why the letter attacked Congress when it was at its weakest
- The explosive letter spoke about "uncertainty" over the leadership
Rahul Gandhi intervened at a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting today after his mother Sonia Gandhi announced that she wanted to "be relieved of the post of party president" and questioned the timing of a letter written by over 20 top party leaders targeting the Gandhi leadership. But reports that he had accused signatories of the letter of being in cahoots with the ruling BJP were strongly denied by the Congress as well as the letter writers.
At the end of a seven-hour meeting, the Congress decided that Sonia Gandhi will continue in the post and a new chief would be decided at an All India Congress Committee meeting to be held within six months. Sources said Rahul Gandhi called for a committee to help his mother as he did not want her to be burdened a she battles ill-health.
Many leaders also suggested that Rahul Gandhi should return as Congress chief a year after he quit the post over the party's national election debacle.
Rahul Gandhi, who was believed to be with his mother as they both attended the online CWC meeting, intervened shortly after it began and questioned why the letter attacked the Congress when it was at its weakest, when it was battling crises in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and when the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) was unwell.
It was also reported that he alluded to the letter writers colluding with the BJP. But the Congress said he "hadn't said a word of this nature".
Ghulam Nabi Azad, one of the few signatories who are also part of the CWC, offered to resign as he defended the letter at the meet. He later clarified that his resignation was not connected to anything Rahul Gandhi said and that never once did Mr Gandhi allege that the letter writers were colluding with the BJP.
Kapil Sibal, another signatory to the "dissenters'" letter, withdrew an angry tweet he had posted in reaction to Rahul Gandhi.
"Was informed by Rahul Gandhi personally that he never said what was attributed to him . I therefore withdraw my tweet," Mr Sibal tweeted. He had earlier tweeted: "Rahul Gandhi says we are colluding with BJP. Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the Congress party. Defending party in Manipur to bring down BJP Government. Last 30 years have never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue yet 'we are colluding with the BJP!'"
Replying to his tweet, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala posted: "Rahul Gandhi hasn't said a word of this nature nor alluded to it. Please don't be misled by false media discourse or misinformation being spread. But yes, we all need to work together in fighting the draconian Modi rule rather than fighting and hurting each other and the Congress."
Sonia Gandhi's decision to quit followed the letter written by 26 top Congress leaders, including MPs and former Union Ministers, demanding a "full-time, visible leadership" and complaining about a drift in the party. The explosive letter spoke about "uncertainty" over the leadership and stressed that the Gandhis will always be an integral part of a "collective leadership". The signatories include Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Vivek Tankha and Anand Sharma.
Manmohan Singh was among those who came out in support of Sonia Gandhi and hit out at the signatories of the letter.
"The letter is unfortunate," the former PM reportedly said. He remarked that "weakening the high command is weakening the Congress".
Speaking after Manmohan Singh, senior leader AK Anthony said: "More than the letter, the contents of the letter were cruel." He also spoke about "the sacrifices of Sonia Gandhi," according to sources, and urged Rahul Gandhi to take over as Congress president.