The NCP supremo Sharad Pawar might be replacing Congress President Sonia Gandhi as the new Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). According to reports citing sources, initial talks have already been held in this regard. The reports claimed that following the miserable performance of the Congress in the recently held elections including the Bihar Assembly elections and the Hyderabad Municipal polls, some infighting happened in the party. Some leaders demanded answers from the top brass of the party regarding the party’s performance in elections along with demanding Rahul Gandhi’s return as party chief.
The report claimed that Rahul Gandhi has neither agreed to return as the Congress President nor to succeed his mother as the UPA chairperson. In the given situation, there are high chances that while Rahul Gandhi can continue to be the face of the UPA, Pawar, being the senior-most leader, might take up the position of the UPA chairperson, said the report.
The NCP, the Congress and the Shiva Sena are running a coalition government in Maharashtra under the banner of Maha Vikas Aghadi. Pawar had let the delegation of opposition leaders when they recently met the President of India regarding farmer protests, despite Rahul Gandhi being present.
The Congress party is expected to hold elections to elect a new president for the party by early next year. With Rahul Gandhi not willing to take charge of the party again, it may see a president from outside the Gandhi family. When last time Rahul Gandhi had taken over as Congress president, Sonia Gandhi had continued as UPA chairperson. But this time it is certain that she will take complete retirement, and hence a new UPA chief will be needed.
NCP denies any talk about UPA chairperson
After the reports were out claiming that Pawar may lead UPA replacing Sonia Gandhi, the NCP issued a statement denying the reports. Chief spokesperson of the party Mahesh Tapase issued a statement saying that the media reports are unsubstantiated. “Nationalist Congress party would like to clarify that there is no discussion within UPA partners regarding any such proposal”, the statement said.
Sonia Gandhi’s journey downhill
Sonia Gandhi has been the chairperson of the UPA since 2004. In 2004, the Congress had formed government in coalition with left parties under the Prime Ministership of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Currently, there are 12 member parties in the UPA including the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Sonia Gandhi was initially not ready to join politics and had even persuaded her husband late Rajiv Gandhi not to join politics. In 1998, she took the charge of Congress party and got elected to Parliament in 1999. Congress faced a humiliating defeat in 1999 general elections but it made a comeback in 2004 general elections. However, Sonia Gandhi could not become the Prime Minister due to her citizenship issued. However, she ran the government from the background, with her ‘super cabinet’ National Advisory Council (NAC) set up to advise the Prime Minister. She was opposed as the UPA chairperson by Pawar due to her foreign origins, and he had left the Congress party to form NCP.
In 2017, Rahul Gandhi replaced his mother as the Congress President but she continued to hold the position of the UPA chairperson. Rahul Gandhi who was elected ‘unopposed’ as Congress president resigned after the poor performance of the party in 2019 general elections. Sonia Gandhi returned as the party President. The party has been struggling with a leadership void and has, almost consistently, been performing miserably in the elections.