Sonia Gandhi will not retire from politics, says Congress

A day before Rahul Gandhi takes over as Congress president, his mother Sonia Gandhi said she wanted to retire now after heading India’s grand old party for 20 years.

Party leadership immediately clarified that Gandhi has retired only as party chief and not from politics.

“Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light,” party spokesman Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

The clarification was prompted by Gandhi’s comments to reporters in Parliament early on Friday that her “role now was to retire.”

Her remarks came amid speculation on what role she is likely to assume after her son becomes party supremo.
Many say a special post may be created for her to help him in tackling challenges as the party prepares for 2019 general elections.

Gandhi declined the post of prime minister after the 2004 elections as power never held any attraction for her. Her husband Rajiv Gandhi and mother-in-law Indira Gandhi — both former prime ministers — were assassinated. She was initially reluctant to allow her son to enter politics.

Rahul’s elevation as Congress president on Saturday comes two days before the announcement of crucial assembly election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Rahul led a spirited election campaign in Gujarat, his rival Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf, cobbling up alliance with local community leaders and attacking Modi over demonetisation and goods and services tax which caused hardship to people and small traders.

However, exit polls released on Thursday by various TV channels have indicated a comfortable win for Bharatiya Janata Party in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.