A new Congress president will be chosen when the party's top decision-making body meets today, sources said on Friday after a meeting at Sonia Gandhi's home. Mukul Wasnik has emerged as the frontrunner for the post left vacant after Rahul Gandhi quit in May, owning responsibility for the party's national election debacle.
Rahul Gandhi has expressed that he would like to see a broad consultation involving state leaders and the Congress Legislature Party, sources said.
A non-Gandhi may be party president for the first time in two decades as the Congress Working Committee meets tomorrow. 59-year-old Mukul Wasnik, a former minister with much administrative experience, is expected to take charge at least till the organisational elections.
In its 134-year history, India's oldest political party has mostly had a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family in charge. But at a time all three Gandhis are in politics, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have refused to be a part of the process.
The Congress Working Committee will formally thank Rahul Gandhi for his role as president, the sources said, indicating that the party had officially given up attempts to persuade the 49-year-old to withdraw his resignation.
Top leaders including AK Antony, Ahmed Patel and KV Venugopal were at the meeting at Sonia Gandhi's house. Sources say the leaders decided that there would be no more delay on picking the next Congress president.
For over two months, the Congress has been in a period of stasis. As its leaders tried and failed to change Rahul Gandhi's mind, the party could not agree on a replacement.
The extent of its organisational mess was apparent when the Congress fumbled through its objections to the government's move to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split it into two union territories.
While leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal tore into the government's decisions in parliament, outside, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Jaiveer Shergill, Karan Singh and Janardhan Dwivedi came out in its support.
Sonia Gandhi was also visibly embarrassed when in the Lok Sabha, the Congress's leader of the house Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, flubbed on India's Kashmir policy.
Mukul Wasnik, say sources, is seen as a strong choice to repair the Congress's organizational weaknesses with his long administrative record.
Mr Wasnik has worked in the Congress governments of PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. He has also worked as general secretary for Sonia Gandhi.