New Delhi: Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday offered to quit, asking the Congress Working Committee to initiate the process for selecting a new party chief, sources said. This was revealed at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting underway on Monday.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, called in the wake of a section of leaders seeking a "full time and visible" Congress president, Sonia Gandhi made the offer to quit saying she had given a detailed reply on the issue to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke after Gandhi, rejected her offer to quit and urged her to continue, so did former Defence Minister A K Antony.
Both veteran leaders criticised the letter by some party leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, who are a part of the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body. The letter had reportedly addressed the Congress party's weakening support base since its defeat in the general elections in 2014.
Sources said Sonia Gandhi referred to Azad and others twice during her brief address and the issues raised by them.
The letter of Sonia Gandhi to the people who wrote to her demanding a change in the leadership, said that she wanted to be relieved. Sonia Gandhi's letter was read by party General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal at the meeting of the highest decision making body of the Congress.
Sources added that Rahul Gandhi in his speech also questioned the timing of the letter, which was sent to Sonia Gandhi when she was in Gangaram hospital and under medication.
"It is the CWC and not the media where we put out our thoughts and discuss," he is learnt to have said at the meeting, the sources said.
The crucial meeting of the Working Committee started here amid divisions in the party over the leadership issue.
The party is divided on the leadership matter with a section demanding collective leadership and another reposing faith in the Gandhi family.
With many Congress leaders openly demanding Rahul Gandhi to be brought back as the party chief without any further delay, the party had made it clear that the CWC meeting will discuss the issue.
The meeting comes weeks after the Congress saw a stormy meeting of its Rajya Sabha MPs wherein certain leaders sought introspection on the 2019 poll debacle. Thereafter, a bunch of leaders wrote the letter to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi on the issue of leadership change and elections in the CWC.
(With Inputs from IANS and PTI)