Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the Congress president is “almost certain” and an announcement to this effect may be made any time after Diwali, reliable sources in the Congress confirmed to The Sunday Guardian

The sources said that the party has overcome resistance offered by some senior leaders to Rahul Gandhi taking over the reins of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi, post what they described as the Gandhi scion’s “very successful US tour”.

“It is now almost certain that Rahul will be officially anointed as the No. 1 in the Congress. The party is likely to designate Rahul as its president after Diwali. Sonia Gandhi will continue as the UPA chairperson,” a source in the Congress told this reporter.

When asked about the objections raised by the old guard in the party and by some of its allies, who have time and again alluded that Sonia Gandhi should continue being at the helm, another source said: “Some seniors had been objecting to Rahul’s elevation as Congress president for some time now. Even recently, some leaders were of the opinion that if Rahul has to be made the party president necessarily before 2019, it should not happen before the Gujarat elections at least. But the ‘warm reception’ to Rahul’s contact programmes from US and the buzz surrounding his speeches at the University of California University and the Princeton University have ‘built up’ his image. The seniors had to give in.”

Rahul Gandhi was on a tour of the United States for two weeks in September where he spoke to university students and expatriates over a range of issues, while sharpening attack on the Narendra Modi government’s “failure” to boost economy or address the issue of unemployment. 

He had admitted to “certain amount of arrogance” in the Congress, while it was in power for the second consecutive term, and added that the UPA 2 government was “already not working” by 2011.

When sources were asked if the party intended to fill the vice-president’s post that Rahul would vacate in the event of his election as Congress chief,they said “this might happen”. “The party may have a senior leader as the vice president. As of now, Ghulam Nabi Azad seems to be a likely candidate for the same,” the source reiterated.

The Sunday Guardian was the first to report that, in what seems to be a compromise formula with the party’s old guards, Sonia’s recommendation is that G.N. Azad and P. Chidambaram be made the Congress vice-presidents when Rahul takes over the reins from her (Sonia wants old guard PC, Azad as deputies once Rahul is made Congress president, 23 July).

 “Rahul Gandhi wants to promote the ‘young’ leaders, but Sonia Gandhi is not willing. She cited the mishandling of the Rahul-Zhaohui meeting as an example of the recklessness that can take place under an all ‘young’ team, as they do not have the experience… She wants the experienced, older leaders to be brought back into focus and play a key role in the 2019 elections and the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh ahead of it. Her recommendation is that P. Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad should be made the vice presidents of the party, when Rahul takes over the reins from her,” The Sunday Guardian had reported.

The sources further said that Rahul’s sister Priyanka Gandhi, who refused to campaign across Uttar Pradesh earlier in March after keeping the suspense till the last moment, “may take more responsibilities on her plate”.

“Priyanka Gandhi (Vadra) already looks after a lot of internal works in the party to help Sonia Gandhi, who has been unwell for some time. But there is talk that she will also become more publicly visible in the run up to the general elections… like she does in Amethi and Rae Bareli,” sources told this newspaper.