This Article is From Aug 06, 2011

Congress dilemma over Sonia's absence

New Delhi: The flag hoisting on Independence Day at the Red Fort may be an annual event, but with Congress President Sonia Gandhi recuperating after her surgery in the US, party leaders are in a dilemma about who will take her place.

Highly placed sources told NDTV that Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is with Mrs Gandhi in the US, has confirmed he will be back by then. But whether he will take on this symbolic duty is not known yet. In fact, ever since the Gandhi family left for New York on Tuesday, very few leaders were kept in the loop.

Mrs Gandhi was, earlier today, shifted out of the intensive care unit (ICU). She was operated upon on Thursday and remained in the ICU for 24 hours.

There seems to be a general sense of despondency within the party. A section of leaders felt that to tackle it, the party should give out a detailed statement about Mrs Gandhi's health. However, the family seems to be firmly against that.

So, instead, a brief statement was made on her health today. "Smt. Sonia Gandhi remained in the ICU for 24 hours and has thereafter been moved out. Her family has expressed gratitude on her behalf for all the messages and good wishes that have been sent to her."

The statement does not mention when Mrs Gandhi will return, and how soon she will resume her responsibilities. The statement also does not clarify if her condition will require constant care as she has been in touch with her American doctors for at least six months.

The caretaker group, appointed to look after the affairs of Congress in Mrs Gandhi's absence, is meant to have daily meetings to tackle immediate issues like facing the Opposition in Parliament, handling of the Telangana tangle, and the Anna Hazare crisis.

However, with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the Commonwealth Games likely to blow up in Parliament in the coming days, it remains to be seen if the Congress will be able to manage without Mrs Gandhi.