Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday offered to quit, asking the Congress Working Committee to initiate the process for selecting a new party chief, sources said.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, called in the wake of a section of leaders seeking a "full time and visible" Congress president, Sonia Gandhi made the offer to quit saying she had given a detailed reply on the issue to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke after Gandhi, urged her to continue, so did former Defence Minister A K Antony, with both the veterans criticising the letter by some party leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, who are a part of the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body.
Sources said Sonia Gandhi referred to Azad and others twice during her brief address and the issues raised by them.
She also handed over a detailed reply to Venugopal, who read out its contents at the CWC meeting in which Gandhi sought to be relieved from the post.
Sources added that Rahul Gandhi in his speech also questioned the timing of the letter, which was sent to Sonia Gandhi when she was in Gangaram hospital and under medication.
"It is the CWC and not the media where we put out our thoughts and discuss," he is learnt to have said at the meeting, the sources said.
Congress sources said that while addressing the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision making body of the party, Rahul Gandhi questioned the timing of the letter and said, "What was the reason to write a letter when Sonia Gandhi was admitted in hospital and when the party was fighting the political crisis in Rajasthan."
Sources also said that Rahul accused dissent letter writers of colluding with the BJP.
Furious Congress leader Kapil Sibal took to Twitter and said, "Rahul Gandhi says “ we are colluding with BJP “ Succeeded in Rajasthan High Court defending the Congress Party Defending party in Manipur to bring down BJP Govt. Last 30 years have never made a statement in favour of BJP on any issue Yet “ we are colluding with the BJP “!"
Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala went on to correct Sibal and said, "Sh. Rahul Gandhi hasn’t said a word of this nature nor alluded to it. Pl don’t be mislead by false media discourse or misinformation being spread. But yes, we all need to work together in fighting the draconian Modi rule rather then fighting & hurting each other & the Congress."
Few minutes later, Sibal was informed by Rahul Gandhi personally that he never said what was attributed to him."I, therefore, withdraw my tweet," said Sibal and deleted his previous tweet.
Taking to Twitter, Nidhi Razdan said, "A true leader recognises a crisis, takes feedback and criticism constructively. And then there is this. It is astounding that @RahulGandhi says this about long time loyal Congress party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Milind Deora and others,"
Here is how Twitter reacted;