Rahul Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all served as prime minister, was the centre-left party’s front man in the last general election. But his 70-year-old mother Sonia remains its president and still calls the shots.
She has not publicly announced a decision to stand down as Congress president, but party official Mullappally Ramachandran said after a meeting of senior leaders on Monday that an election would be held next month.
The announcement followed months of speculation that the 47-year-old scion of the Gandhi dynasty would soon take over from his mother.
Rahul Gandhi was elected vice-president of the Congress party in 2013 and has long been his mother’s presumed successor.
He was strongly criticised for a lacklustre campaign that led to a defeat by Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 general election.
But few inside the party, which has since suffered a series of state election defeats, have been willing to publicly criticise the family that has been at its helm for generations.
Rahul has long had the reputation of a reluctant leader, although some analysts say he has displayed greater political acumen since the 2014 election defeat.