Congress leader Kamal Nath rubbished reports of his elevation as party president after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi stirred intense speculation of a top role for him.
"Talk about my becoming Congress president is rubbish. I keep meeting Mrs Gandhi and keep discussing various issues related to the party," Kamal Nath told NDTV.
The Congress veteran said the discussions revolved around the party's Punjab turmoil. Kamal Nath is believed to be close to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, whose feud with Navjot Singh Sidhu has become a massive problem for the party ahead of state polls next year.
As Kamal Nath held discussions with the Congress president this afternoon, rumours peaked about Mr Sidhu being made Punjab Congress president in a shake-up aimed at appeasing him and his camp.
Top Congress sources said there is no current plan to appoint any working Congress president or vice president, as speculated.
Organisational elections to pick a new Congress president and members of the Congress Working Committee are likely to be announced soon, said sources, adding that the party leadership was unlikely to name anyone during this process.
Kamal Nath, 74, is one of the senior most politicians in the Congress. Last year, his long-running feud with Jyotiraditya Scindia boiled over and led to his government in Madhya Pradesh collapsing after Mr Scindia switched to the BJP, taking a large number of Congress MLAs with him.
The former Union Minister and nine-time MP is close to the Gandhis and has a good rapport with leaders across parties. But more significantly, he has close ties with members of the "G-23" or the group of 23 "dissenters" in the Congress, who wrote to Sonia Gandhi last year calling for sweeping changes, including collective decision-making and "full-time, visible leadership".
Sources say Sonia Gandhi is banking on Kamal Nath to reach out to the leaders who have been upset for some time.
The Congress's internal elections have been put off thrice. In May, the party deferred the polls again on account of a spike in Covid cases in the second wave. Reports suggest the Congress polls could be held after the monsoon session of parliament.
In January, Rahul Gandhi had said during a party meeting fraught with arguments: "Once and for all, finish it and move on."
The last organizational elections were held in 1997.
Sonia Gandhi took over as interim president in 2019 after her son Rahul quit the post over the Congress's national election drubbing. Both have ruled themselves out as candidates. Rahul Gandhi has said a non-Gandhi should be given a chance.