Sonia Gandhi retires as India’s Congress party chief

The leader of India’s main opposition party Congress, Sonia Gandhi, has retired as the party chief a day before her son Rahul Gandhi replaces her, Indian media reported Friday.


“My role is now to retire,” she told NDTV.


The leader has stepped down from her position as the party president after her son was elected unopposed and will take charge as the new chief Saturday.


While talking to NDTV on Friday, Sonia said that it has been her son Rahul, 47, who has been helping her make decisions on vital issues pertaining to the party.


Sonia, 71, entered politics in 1994, a few years after her husband former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.


She was the president of Congress since 1998 and was elected to the Indian parliament in 1999.


Although she is stepping down from her position in the party, Sonia is not retiring from politics and will continue as the member of the parliament, Indian media quoted Congress sources as saying.


Rahul Gandhi named Congress president


Rahul was named the new leader of Congress on December 11.


On the occasion, Senior Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran had said the 47-year-old had stood unopposed for election as the president of the party that his family had led for generations.


“I hereby declare Shri Rahul Gandhi elected as the president of the Indian National Congress,” he told reporters outside the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on Monday.


The announcement capped years of speculation that the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty would take over from his mother who led the party for nearly two decades.


Rahul, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all served as prime minister, has been her deputy since 2013 and led the campaign for the last general election.


He will officially take over on Saturday at a ceremony in New Delhi.


Congress party workers let off firecrackers and cheered as they celebrated the announcement.


“I have waited for this day for so many years. My joy knows no bounds,” said Prem Chowdhury, a long-time party member and former municipal councillor.


Rahul was strongly criticised for a lacklustre campaign for the 2014 general election, in which Congress recorded its worst-ever showing and lost power to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


Since the national election defeat, the party has lost polls in many states to the BJP, exposing him to further criticism.


But few inside the party have been willing publicly to criticise the family that has been at its helm for generations.


Source: Geo News

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