Sonia supreme leader, Rahul will come back: Congress

File PTI photo of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi

Congress on Friday asserted that Rahul Gandhi would come back to an active role in the party with “more strength”, as the Maharashtra and Haryana election results gave an impression of the old guard getting a firmer grip on the organisation.

The buzz about young turks getting edged out from key roles in the organisation grew as elections in Maharashtra and Haryana threw up unexpected results with the party gaining strength in the virtual absence of the party's central leadership from the campaign in both the states.

Rahul, who had quit as party president after Congress' dismal performance in the Lok Sabha election, addressed five rallies in Maharashtra and three in Haryana, in line with his policy of staying away from party affairs.

Questions were raised on Sonia Gandhi's health as she could not campaign in the recent Assembly elections. Her only rally in Haryana was cancelled due to her health and Rahul Gandhi had to step in at the last moment.

“Don't be concerned about Sonia Gandhi, she is our president, our supreme leader. She will continue as long as she and the party wants,” senior Congress leader A K Antony told reporters to questions about whether she should step down given the defeat of the party.

Rahul appointee Ashok Tanwar's unceremonious ouster as Haryana Congress chief was also seen by a section of the party as a signal to young leaders about tightening grip on the organisation by the veterans.

However, Antony would have none of it as he dismissed attempts to put the loss of Congress at the doorstep of the Gandhis.

“Look at the writing on the wall, Congress is rising like a phoenix in the sky,” he said rejecting suggestion that the party's central leadership had failed to enthuse the cadre in Maharashtra and Haryana.

Antony said the blame of electoral loss cannot be put on the Gandhi family. “If there is defeat, you will give all the blame to the Congress family, if Congress succeeds, you will say it is because if circumstances. People will not buy this theory,” he said.

“Don't worry about Rahul Gandhi also, he will come back with more strength,” Antony, considered a loyalist of the Gandhi family, said.

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