NEW DELHI :
In a dramatic development, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi left an ongoing meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday, opting out of the process to chose a new party chief. This happened soon after the CWC had divided itself into five region-based groups to carry on wider consultation over the ongoing leadership crisis in the party.
Speaking to reporters, Sonia Gandhi said since the consultation to decide the next party chief has begun, then "naturally" the two top leaders from the Gandhi family will not be part of the process. "Now that is obviously a mistake," was her response when asked about the inclusion of their names in the earlier region-based groups.
The development is significant because it could signal further delay in the start of a formal process to find a successor to Rahul Gandhi who resigned from the party’s top post over two months ago.
In the past few weeks, there has been a growing discontent within the party about how a delay in finding a successor has been hurting the process of revitalising the Congress party since its second worst loss in national elections.
The extended CWC meeting on Saturday was attended not by just top central leaders but also key state leaders including state unit chiefs. The CWC meeting started at 11AM on Saturday morning at the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road in the national capital.
According to a person aware of the developments, the CWC has been divided into five regions -- northeast, east, north, south and west -- and the meeting is scheduled for different rooms at the party headquarters.
While Rahul Gandhi was part of the western region group, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi is part of the eastern region group. Both have now opted out of the process.
A week after the Congress' second worst loss in national elections, Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post of party president taking accountability. For over two months now, the party has been unable to find his successor.