Will Resign, Sonia Gandhi Tells Aides After Congress Letter Row: 10 Facts

The letter called for elections to pick the members of the Working Committee - the highest decision-making body of the party.

A key party meet has been called tomorrow to discuss party's revival.

New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi has told her aides that she does not want to continue as interim Congress president, sources said on Sunday amid a massive controversy over a letter by more than 20 top party leaders calling for sweeping reforms, introspection and "a full-time, visible leadership". Sonia Gandhi, 73, will either resign immediately or give the party a deadline to find a new chief, sources said ahead of a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the party's top decision-making body, today. The letter suggests that the Gandhis, who have led the party for most of its 134-year history, can remain an "integral part of a collective leadership". Mrs Gandhi has decided that the matter will be discussed at the Working Committee meeting today, sources said.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. Rahul Gandhi has said that he is determined to not return as the Congress president and will continue to work for the party and fight the BJP-led RSS, sources close to him told NDTV as Gandhi family loyalists took on the leaders who signed the letter. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also clear she will remain as a general secretary and not take on any bigger leadership role in the party, sources said.

  2. The letter, signed by senior leaders like Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Vivek Tankha and Anand Sharma,  called for a "full-time", "effective leadership" that will be "visible" and "active" in the field, sources said. It also called for "honest introspection" and suggested a "collective leadership", reforms including decentralisation of power, empowerment of state units and organizational elections at every level, sources said.

  3. The "uncertainty" over the leadership and the "drift" in the party had demoralised workers and weakened the party, the letter read, according to sources. The letter, dated August 7, called for elections to pick the members of the Working Committee - the highest decision-making body of the party. The process of election, which was the norm earlier, has recently been replaced by nomination from the party chief.

  4. After the letter became public, sources close to Mrs Gandhi said she talked of stepping down. The 73-year-old was roped into taking charge of the party last year as Rahul Gandhi quit the top post after the crushing defeat in the general elections. Mrs Gandhi had taken a backseat over the last few years in view of her health situation.  

  5. The letter has split the Congress down the middle with leaders like Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel and Siddaramaiah coming out in support of the Gandhis. "Sonia Gandhi should continue as long as she wants; Rahul Gandhi should take over after her as he is fully competent," Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Sunday evening.

  6. His Chhattisgarh counterpart Bupesh Baghel tweeted: "Honorable Sonia ji and Respected Rahul ji are the ray of hope for us in every challenge. We are all with you".

  7. The Gandhi family loyalists have also questioned why the letter had to be sent before the meeting of the Working Committee scheduled for today. This is "not the time to raise such an issue, given need for strong opposition against BJP-led NDA that was out to destroy country's constitutional ethos and democratic principles," Amarinder Singh said.

  8. Lately, there has been a push for reforms from various senior leaders including Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor. On Sunday, Mr Tharoor tweeted a quote by Jawaharlal Nehru that read, "Without passion and urge, there is a gradual oozing out of hope and vitality, a settling down on lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence. We have become prisoners of the past and some part of its immobility sticks to us".  

  9. Mrs Gandhi, 73, however, has made it clear that she does not want to continue in view of her health. Amid a strong chorus to bring back Rahul Gandhi, a group of leaders have argued that he and his team lack political experience. Some leaders also indicated that they feel that Mr Gandhi is remote controlling the party, making all decisions without being accountable.

  10. The working committee meeting last month saw arguments and sharp criticism by younger leaders who were seen to blame the party's last government for its massive downfall since. The younger leaders reportedly said those who were part of the last UPA government should take the blame for the Congress's rapid decline.