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.
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, urged her to continue, so did former Defence Minister A K Antony, with both the veterans criticising 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.
Sources said Sonia Gandhi referred to Azad and others twice during her brief address and the issues raised by them.
She also handed over a detailed reply to Venugopal, who read out its contents at the CWC meeting in which Gandhi sought to be relieved from the post.
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.
Around 20 party leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi demanding a full-time, visible president and overhauling of the organisational structure including elections to the CWC and reconstitution of the Parliamentary board.
There has been a huge outpouring of support for the Gandhis with party leaders from across the country urging her to continue as party chief or appoint Rahul Gandhi to the post....