Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has turned down requests to take over as Congress president, a role that her brother Rahul Gandhi relinquished after the party’s national election debacle in May.
Sources say Priyanka Gandhi, 47, has told senior Congress leaders that there is no question of her taking the top post; she would rather continue to serve the party in her current role.
In May, days after the election results, Rahul Gandhi had reportedly said, while conveying his decision to give up the top job, “leave my sister out of it”.
The Congress has been flailing since Rahul Gandhi stepped down just two years after taking over from his mother Sonia Gandhi, owning responsibility for the party’s second straight defeat in the national election. He urged the party to look for a new chief, a non-Gandhi.
For the party headed by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family for much of its 134-year history, it is a tough break.
Desperate, the Congress went to the younger Gandhi sibling after an informal vote to try and arrive at some consensus on other candidates.
Sources say senior Congress leaders took a vote through sealed envelopes handed to various state leaders, chief ministers and members of the party’s highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee.
The envelopes reportedly had seven names – Mallikarjun Kharge, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijaya Singh, Kumari Selja, Mukul Wasnik, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
After the exercise, the Congress is no closer to a name.
Sources say leaders are now waiting for the return of Rahul Gandhi, who is in the US. Sonia Gandhi has reportedly called for a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, where leaders are likely to report that there is no consensus on a replacement for Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress may name an interim president and then go for internal elections.
Priyanka Gandhi, who joined politics in January as Congress general secretary, has often been talked about as a “born leader” with several traits similar to her grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi.