New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday underwent successful surgery in a New York hospital for an undisclosed ailment while her son and party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was entrusted with overseeing Congress affairs. Sonia, 64, is likely to be out of the country for three weeks.
The party kept the news of the surgery of its President a secret even as Sonia, accompanied by Rahul, had left earlier in the week to an undisclosed location in the US.
Congress leader Janaradan Dwiwedi on Thursday announced that Sonia would have to undergo surgery and would be away for weeks.
“Sonia Gandhi has been recently diagnosed with a medical condition that requires surgery. On advice from her doctors, she has travelled abroad and is likely to be away for two to three weeks,” said Dwivedi.
The Congress President had not been keeping well in the past and because of her illness could not attend meetings of the Congress Core Group as also that of the Parliamentary Strategy Committee.
Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, along with other three senior members, took charge of the affairs of the Congress.
Before going for the surgery, Sonia had appointed a four-member committee consisting of Rahul, along with senior party members General Secretary Dwivedi, her political aide Ahmed Patel and Defence Minister A K Antony.
Gandhi’s ailment remained a matter of speculation in the absence of authentic word with the Congress party maintaining total secrecy about the country where she had travelled for the surgery along with her son.
So the big question is – in her absence, who will actually run the party?
Antony is the only Cabinet minister on the list. The government’s all season firefighter Pranab Mukharjee is not there. Antony makes the cut for his squeaky clean image. Patel and Dwiwedi are there to ensure continuity in decision making.
But senior leaders such as Digvijaya Singh are keen to see Rahul on top. In fact Singh has already said, “Rahul should be prime minister.”
Sonia has groomed Rahul for the top job and he was appointed general secretary in 2007.
Rahul’s growing authority was apparent during the recent reshuffle of the Council of Ministers, in which some members of Rahul’s inner circle got ministerial berths.
After the surgery, Sonia will be away for three weeks but it could be longer before she is back to work. But, it remains to be seen if she takes over the duty of party President again or leaves Rahul solely in charge.