In US for surgery, Sonia Gandhi gives Congress keys to Rahul
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In a move that has wide implications for the ruling party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi underwent surgery abroad in the United States for an undisclosed medical condition and could be out for two to three weeks. She has entrusted a group of four senior leaders, including son Rahul Gandhi, to run the "day-to-day party affairs." Sources said the surgery had been successful.
Apart from Rahul, the group comprises loyalists including her political secretary Ahmed Patel, Defence Minister A K Antony and party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi. Rahul, who is currently with his mother overseas, is likely to attend the Congress Core Group meetings in her absence upon his return to the country.
Dwivedi, also the party's media department chairman, said that the 64-year-old Congress president travelled abroad "on the advice of her doctors" and she was likely to be away for "two-three weeks". While the party did not specify which country she went for her surgery, sources said that she was in the US. She left India on Wednesday.
This is the first time that Sonia, who took the reins in 1998 — and is holding the post for the fourth consecutive term — has formally appointed a team of leaders to look after party affairs in her absence. This is also the first time that Rahul, who has been focusing on the Youth Congress and the NSUI since his induction as party general secretary in 2007, has been formally drafted in to play a larger role in the party.
While Rahul was known to be involved in the decision-making process and was instrumental in many crucial steps like going it alone in the Bihar elections and giving a full tenure of six years to Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, it is the first time that he has been formally brought to the centrestage to play a direct role in party affairs, howsoever temporarily. Congress leaders believe that once he starts attending the Congress Core oup meetings, he is likely to continue even after Sonia's return.
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