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Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday reinstated her position as a “full-time and hands-on Congress President” and said that she is “acutely” aware that she has been interim president of the party since 2019. During her address at the party’s highest decision-making body, Gandhi said the revival of the party can only happen with “unity, self-control, discipline and by keeping the party’s interests paramount”.

“I am acutely conscious of the fact that I have been an interim Congress president ever since the CWC asked me to return in this capacity in 2019,” she said while addressing the Congress Working Committee meeting.

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Sonia Gandhi had taken the role after Rahul Gandhi quit the post of party president after Congress’ defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls.

“I am, if you will allow me to say so, a full-time and hands-on Congress president,” Gandhi said, which is seen by many as a response to Sibal’s comments last month. Sources said that elections for Congress President will be held in September 2022.

Referring to some party leaders who have publicly expressed their grievances with the party, especially on the subject of a lack of a regular party president, Sonia said that she had always appreciated frankness.

“I have always appreciated frankness. There is no need to speak to me through the media. So let us all have a free and honest discussion. But what should get communicated outside the four walls of this room is the collective decision of the CWC,” she said on G-23.

Her remarks came after senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had recently said that at the moment, there was no president in the party, so it was not known who was taking decisions. Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sibal, both members of the ‘Group of 23 leaders’, who sought major organisational overhaul last year, had also demanded an early meeting of the CWC to discuss the declining fortunes of the party in the wake of recent defections.

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Sonia Gandhi, former chief Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh and Charanjit Channi of Punjab attended the meeting.

Sonia Gandhi also said that the party never let issues of public importance and concern go unaddressed. “In the last two years, a large number of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones, have taken on leadership roles… Never have we let issues of public importance and concern go unaddressed,” she said.

She said that she has been interacting with like-minded political parties regularly. On revival of the Congress, she said that the entire organisation wants a revival of the party, but “it requires unity and keeping party’s interests paramount.”

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