Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the former party chief Rahul Gandhi have refused to be part of the process to select the next party president, even as the Congress Working Committee (CWC) constituted five groups for wider consultations.

Emerging from the meeting of the CWC, Ms. Gandhi told reporters that neither she nor her son, Rahul, would be part of the process to choose the next chief.

“The process to choose the president has started. Rahul and I are not part of this process. Our names were included by mistake,” Ms. Gandhi said, emerging from a meeting of the CWC.

Mr. Gandhi informed reporters he would be away in Kerala for two days to take stock of the flood situation as he represented the State in the Lok Sabha.

Initially, the Gandhis were part of five groups representing geographical regions and a group of States, where consultation was to be carried out. Along with Members of Parliament, State unit leaders will be part of wider consultations to decide on a single name.

While Ms. Gandhi was part of the group that will consult with Bihar, Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, her son was part of the group representing the Western region, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is part of the group that will consult southern States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana and Union Territory Puducherry.

Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is part of a group that will consult the northern region comprising Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh.

If a consensus is not arrived by Saturday evening, the CWC could meet again on Sunday.

A senior leader quoted Mr. Gandhi as telling party colleagues at a meeting on Friday that “the whole process would be done in three four days”.

“Rahul ji said he will not hold the president’s post; he will continue to fight the government and the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh],” said a senior leader.
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