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Sonia Gandhi to remain interim chief till 'proper procedure' implemented to elect party president: Congress



New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday said Sonia Gandhi will continue as interim president till such time a “proper procedure” is implemented in the “not too distant future” to elect a party chief.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, during an online media briefing, said it was true that Sonia Gandhi’s tenure as interim chief comes to an end on 10 August, one year after she assumed the post, but it did not mean that the seat automatically falls vacant that day.

“Sonia Gandhi is the president, she will continue till such time as a proper procedure is implemented and it will be implemented in the not too distant future,” he told reporters. “Yes, her tenure comes to an end on 10 August. But be rest assured that there is a process that goes through the CWC (Congress Working Committee). This will be followed in the near future and a result will emerge,” he said.

The procedure is written in the Congress’ constitution and the party is committed to follow it, Singhvi said, adding that it was being done and information will be shared on it soon.

Asked about the prevailing confusion over whether Sonia Gandhi’s term ends tomorrow or there is no deadline for when the term of an interim president ends, he said it is very clear that neither nature nor politics, nor political parties, permit or tolerate a vacuum.

“Just like nature abhors a vacuum, political parties cannot function in a vacuum. It is true that the tenure is expiring tomorrow. There is a laid down procedure in the (party) constitution for elections. As you know it goes through the CWC etc.,” Singhvi said.

“Now, in the meanwhile, if anybody is suggesting that the Congress will become headless on the stroke of midnight on 10 August you have to only ask yourself, is it possible, is that a fair interpretation of any constitution that on 10 August suddenly the seat becomes vacant,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi had taken over as interim chief on 10 August last year after Rahul Gandhi resigned taking responsibility for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha election.

There have been growing calls within the party for Rahul Gandhi to come back as party chief, but he seems to be unrelenting and has been sticking to his decision.

Several leaders have also voiced their opinions both on record and in private that the party needs to solve the leadership conundrum to take on the BJP more energetically.

The party has been facing severe infighting as well which took an ugly turn in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia revolted against the party and crossed over to the BJP, bringing down the Congress government in the state.

In Rajasthan, the Congress government is on tenterhooks with Sachin Pilot declaring open rebellion against the Ashok Gehlot government. The fight has even gone to courts now and chances of reconciliation between the two sides are slim.

Close on the heels of the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh crises, the Congress on Friday witnessed a fresh front opening in Punjab with the party’s warring factions in the state seeking each other’s removal.

Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo openly attacked the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government. The state Congress unit on Friday wrote to the central high command recommending the duo’s expulsion for anti-party activities.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said on Sunday said the Congress must expedite the process of finding a full-term president to arrest the growing public perception that the party is “adrift and rudderless”.

Tharoor also said that he certainly thinks Rahul Gandhi has the “mettle, capability and aptitude to once again lead the party”, but if he does not wish to do so then the party must “take action” to elect a new chief.



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