- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi didn't attend meeting called by Sonia Gandhi
- It was a meeting of Congress general secretaries and state chiefs
- On the absence of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress says,"he was not called"
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi did not attend a meeting called by his mother and interim party president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, is a first after many years.
Rahul Gandhi, who became Congress president in 2017 and quit in May after the party's second straight national election drubbing, has for years been at the core of party meetings. For the first time in 12 years, his nameplate is also not up at the party headquarters.
The meeting called by Sonia Gandhi featured Congress general secretaries, state chiefs and state Legislature Party leaders. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has none of these posts, was present at the meeting called to discuss preps for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the party's membership drive and a training programme for cadre. The party says his presence was required as he needed to convey to the leaders present the state of the economy .
On the absence of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress says "he was not called because he doesn't fall in the criteria of leaders called for the meeting and Manmohan Singh was called as economic issues were to be discussed".
After his resignation as party chief, Rahul Gandhi has no organizational post except for Congress Working Committee (CWC) member which has not yet been officially announced . Rahul Gandhi has already conveyed to NDTV that he would continue to work for the party irrespective of not being President. He will be taking part in a padyatra to commemorate Gandhi's 150 th birth anniversary.
ANI quotes party sources as claiming that Rahul Gandhi, an MP from Kerala's Wayanad, could have attended the meeting as AK Antony was also present.
Mr Antony also does not hold any post but went as a senior Congress leader, the sources said.
The agency quoted sources close to Mr Gandhi as saying that "he has honestly taken a stand by quitting and has decided to attend the events of the party as and when necessary". After quitting, the 49-year-old had stated that he would not interfere in party decisions.
The last CWC meeting that Mr Gandhi attended discussed the centre's decisions on Jammu and Kashmir, including the end of its special status. He reportedly left the meet after his resignation as party chief was accepted and Sonia Gandhi took over as interim president.
While Mr Gandhi's nameplate is now missing, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have designated chambers at the party headquarters as interim president and Congress general secretary.
Mr Gandhi had stressed that a non-Gandhi should lead the party but after weeks of waffling over a new chief, the Congress finally urged Sonia Gandhi to take charge for now.
According to ANI's sources, Mr Gandhi is keeping a distance from such meetings to show he is not controlling the party.
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