New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi is set to take over as Congress president in April, sources have said amid a controversy swirling around his “leave of absence” during a key session of Parliament.
Mr Gandhi, 44, will replace his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has helmed the party since 1998. The stage is set for his takeover at a session of the All India Congress Committee in April, sources have told media.
The Congress vice president reportedly held consultations with a cross section of leaders, who endorsed his takeover of the 130-year-old party.
While Rahul Gandhi’s crowning has been anticipated for some time, the news has crystallized at a time the party is confronting criticism over his sabbatical during the budget session.
Mr Gandhi wanted time to think, Congress leaders said after announcing his break on Monday. They also clarified that he was “not quitting politics.”
As his MIA status inspired twitter trends and political scorn, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Tuesday said Mr Gandhi would be back by March 10.
“He is abroad. He has taken time of for introspection and soul searching before starting a new journey in his life,” a Congress leader said today.
Rahul Gandhi, the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was appointed the party’s number two leader in Jaipur in 2013, but he has had a disappointing run, leading the party to a series of poll debacles including its worst drubbing in a national election last year.
A section of the party believes that he must take full control and shed the image of a reluctant politician before restructuring the organisation.
There was speculation that Mr Gandhi took time off as he was frustrated at not being able to bring major changes in the party and replace the “old guard” that has advised his mother. One theory that he resented being blamed for electoral disasters including last month’s Delhi result which saw the Congress unable to win even one seat after 15 years in power.