DELHI, Aug 24 - The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday adopted a resolution that interim president Sonia Gandhi will continue to function as the chief of the party. After a marathon seven-hour-long meeting, the CWC decided to form a committee to assist Gandhi in day-to-day functioning of the party. A session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) will be called within six months, when a new president may be elected.
According to sources, Sonia Gandhi, who was determined to quit the post of party president, agreed to continue. �Congress is one big family and I don�t hold anything against anyone. But all, especially senior leaders, should raise concerns at the party forum only,� she reportedly said.
Gandhi has asked the CWC members to begin the process of electing the next party president. She also presented a statement, which was read out by KC Venugopal. Many leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urged Gandhi to continue.
Meanwhile, three of the signatories � Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik � also lauded her contribution to the party and insisted that their letter was not intended to question the leadership of the Gandhi family.
Explaining the reasons for writing the letter to the Congress president, Azad made it amply clear that it was not directed against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as �misconstrued� and alleged by some people.
Congress general secretary Ambika Soni has demanded action against these leaders, pointing out that rules are equal for both seniors and juniors in the party.
A crisis hit the Congress party when at least 23 senior leaders wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking �sweeping changes� within the party.
The meeting held in virtual mode reportedly saw some fireworks when Rahul Gandhi questioned the timing of the letter that was sent when Sonia Gandhi was in a hospital and under medication. He also reportedly said that the letter was written �at the behest of the BJP� to embarrass the Congress party.
However, he later denied having said so and even called up Kapil Sibal, one of the signatories, to clarify his remarks, after which Sibal withdrew his tweet. Senior party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala also clarified that Rahul Gandhi had, in fact, made no such remark.
Senior CWC member PL Punia told newsmen that members expressed faith in Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and urged her to continue leading the party, which she agreed. Sonia Gandhi agreed to remain interim president till a new party chief is elected.
�There is freedom to express views but discussion should be held on party forum, not in public domain, and members expressed concern over it,� Punia said.
Reports suggest that no action will be taken against those who wrote the letter.
This is not the first time that the grand old party finds itself face to face with a crisis within its ranks. Following the assassination of her husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, Sonia Gandhi refused to join the party. In 1997, however, she became a primary member of the party.
Prior to that, former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and former Union minister Sitaram Kesri had led the party. Their tenures were, however, cut short in the wake of internal revolt.