Paving the way for the elevation of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as party chief, Congress Working Committee (CWC) members on Monday unanimously expressed their "strong sentiments" that he must take over the post, and decided to convey their viewpoint to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The push for Rahul Gandhi's elevation came after senior leader A.K. Antony raised the issue at the meeting of the CWC - the party's highest decision making body - and was supported by all the members present, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The party also signalled Rahul Gandhi's inclination to take up the post, saying he was willing to take up any role decided by the party and the CWC.
The issue of Rahul Gandhi's elevation has been long-discussed in party circles.
Antony told mediapersons later that it was the first time that the CWC had voiced its strong sentiments that he should take up the post.
"In today's working committee meeting, members unanimously expressed their strong sentiments respecting the wishes of crores of party workers and well-wishers that Rahul Gandhiji must take over the presidentship of the Congress party," Antony said in a joint press briefing with party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Asked why the elevation did not take place on Monday, Antony said it was a procedural issue.
"We are recommending for the first time to the Congress president. The final decision has to be that of the party president," he added.
Rahul Gandhi, 46, had been appointed party vice-president in January 2013 at Congress' brainstorming session in Jaipur.
Though the CWC on Monday decided to seek one more year from the Election Commission to hold its organisational elections, Surjewala made it clear that such a move had no link to the eventual elevation of Rahul Gandhi.
A party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the elevation could take place this month but will definitely occur before December, and another CWC meeting may be called for the purpose.
"The coming assembly polls, including those in crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, will be fought with Rahul Gandhi as the party chief," he said.
Party leaders said that Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest serving president of the party and has faced health problems in the recent past, will continue to be a guiding force after Rahul Gandhi's elevation. She took over as party chief in 1998.
Replying to questions about Rahul Gandhi's response to the demand of CWC members, Surjewala said: "Rahul Gandhiji said he wants to fight for the idea of India and whatever party workers decide he will be ready to take up that role.
"Any responsibility that helps him realise that objective, he is always willing to take that responsibility," Surjewala added.
Antony said it is high time that Congress mobilises all its forces to fight against the "anti-people and dictatorial policies" of the Modi government.
Several party leaders, including Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jairam Ramesh, have stated that Rahul Gandhi should take over as party chief. There has also been an alternate view in the party that Sonia Gandhi should continue at the helm as the party was facing daunting challenges.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)