CWC Meeting: Rahul Gandhi remained firm on his decision to quit as Congress chief.
Rahul Gandhi has remained firm on his decision to quit as Congress president despite his party leaders pleading with him at a meeting on Saturday to assess the party’s debacle in the national election and even after it. Congress leaders told reporters they had rejected Rahul Gandhi’s offer to quit “unanimously and in one voice”, but the 48-year-old is reportedly determined to step down.
The Congress’s abysmal performance has also led to an internal crisis in the party. At the meeting that lasted for four hours, Rahul Gandhi had some tough words for several senior Congress leaders, who he said “pushed” their sons as poll candidates, sources said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav lost in Jodhpur by a margin of over 2.7 lakh votes to the BJP’s Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s son, Nakul Nath, won the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket. Karti Chidambaram, son of P Chidambaram, won from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga seat.
What provoked the plain-speak from Rahul Gandhi was a comment from his trusted adviser Jyotiraditya Scindia on the need to build and strengthen local leadership in the party. Mr Gandhi reportedly did not take names while making his point.
In December, the Congress won three major heartland states, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The struggle of farmers at the time against debt, crop prices and an element of anti-incumbency against the BJP, which held these states, worked well for Mr Gandhi. But the infamous Congress complacency and infighting consumed those gains within five months.
Rahul Gandhi told the Congress Working Committee, which consists of 52 members, that he would like to exit as its top boss nearly a year and a half after he took the job from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress, shell-shocked after its drubbing, reportedly pleaded with its chief to reconsider his decision. Party leaders praised Rahul Gandhi and authorized him to go for a complete overhaul of the party.
P Chidambaram became emotional while asking Rahul Gandhi to continue and said some supporters, especially from the south which voted for the Congress, may take some “extreme step” in case he resigned, sources said.
Mr Gandhi reportedly made it clear that he would not “vanish” and would continue to work for the party.
“If not you, then who,” Congress leaders reportedly protested. When Priyanka Gandhi’s name came up, Mr Gandhi reportedly said: “Don’t drag my sister into it.”