Rahul Gandhi firm on resignation
THE crisis in the Congress showed no signs of easing on Tuesday with Rahul Gandhi sticking to his decision to resign as party chief after its Lok Sabha poll debacle and staying way from meeting party leaders, except a few including his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Sources said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot went to meet Gandhi at his Tughlaq lane residence, but they only managed to meet Priyanka there. With senior Congress leaders pressing upon Rahul Gandhi to take back his resignation and revamp the party at all levels in these challenging times, a number of allies stood by him and urged him not to quit, describing him as the “best and competent” person to pull the party out of the abyss. The sources said Gandhi is not meeting anyone and remains incommunicado.
He met only Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi during the day, besides party leaders K C Venugopal and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Asked about the meeting, Gehlot and Pilot said that they did go to Rahul Gandhi’s residence separately and spent some 20 minutes each there. Gehlot was reportedly ticked off by Gandhi at the CWC meeting on May 25 for giving priority to campaigning for his son in Jodhpur and neglecting other parts of the state. Rahul Gandhi met Sonia Gandhi in the evening and the two spent some time together.
Sonia Gandhi came along with Rahul to drop him at his residence and spent some time there too. The sources indicate that the state executive of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee will be meeting on Wednesday in Jaipur and would endorse the CWC resolution urging Rahul Gandhi to continue as party chief and steer the party out of its current state. The state co-ordination committee of Haryana is also meeting tomorrow.
The sources said more PCCs are likely to endorse the CWC resolution, as Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit also appealed to Rahul to withdraw his decision to step down, saying the party has bounced back in the past from challenging circumstances to triumph. The chorus of voices urging Rahul Gandhi not to quit grew as DMK chief M K Stalin told the Congress president that he has won the hearts of the people, while RJD supremo Lalu Prasad termed the offer to quit as “suicidal”, asserting it would amount to “falling into the BJP’s trap”. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth also said the Congress chief should stay on as he was a “youngster” and perhaps not got the cooperation of senior party leaders.
Rahul Gandhi offered to quit as party chief at the CWC meeting on May 25 that unanimously rejected his offer and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. He is reported to be insisting on his resignation and adamant on having a non-Gandhi installed as the party head. As senior Congress leaders made a determined bid to convince Gandhi to withdraw his resignation, Shashi Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, said Gandhi has led the party from the front and still has far more to offer to it.
The Congress bagged 52 seats, marginally up from 44 secured in 2014. Another Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said, “Instead of resigning, he should seek resignations of leaders at all levels and restructure the party.” M Veerappa Moily, also of the Congress, termed the poll setback as a “passing phase”. Describing Gandhi as an “inspiration” for the party, Moily said it was not appropriate for him to quit his post. “Just because (Narendra) Modi has won...That is not a criteria to leave the presidentship. After all, ups and downs are common for the Congress party.
We have seen them many a time,” he said. Gandhi should not insist on his resignation and should “continue to guide the destiny of the party and the nation”, he said. “Apart from legacy, on his own personality, he is the most competent person to lead the party,” Moily said. During his telephonic conversation with Gandhi, Stalin told him though the Congress party has suffered defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, “you have won the hearts of the people”. The DMK-led front in Tamil Nadu won 37 of the 38 LS seats to which election was held in the state.
Lalu Prasad tweeted: “Rahul’s offer to resign suicidal. Opposition parties had the common goal to dislodge BJP but failed to build a national narrative. The result in a particular election can never alter the reality in as diverse and plural a country as India.” Asked by reporters in Chennai about Gandhi’s offer to resign, Rajnikanth said, “He should not resign.” Leaders are pointing out that the CWC, which is the highest decision-making body of the party, has already put down in writing its decision at the meeting on May 25. Asked at the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “Let us not indulge in any speculation. The resolution of CWC stands and that is where we are.”
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi has taken back his resignation, Khera said, “The CWC is the most important decision making body of our Party. The CWC had rejected the resignation. What else do you want me to say? The CWC has rejected his offer to resign, has rejected his resignation.” Sachin Pilot may quit Cong if Rahul resigns: WITH uncertainty looming over Rahul Gandhi continuing as Congress President, there is speculation that Sachin Pilot too may quit as Deputy Chief Minister and State Congress chief along with his team of MLAs, in case Gandhi quits his post.
Party sources say Rahul Gandhi was instrumental in making Pilot as the State Congress chief in 2014. After the Assembly polls late last year, Pilot was made Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s Deputy. With Congress chief himself mulling over his resignation, Pilot’s future hangs in the balance, sources said. In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 100 members, the BJP 73 members, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 6, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) 3, Communist Party of India-Marxist 2, Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) 2, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) 1 and 13 Independent members. The Gehlot Government is supported by the 6 BSP MLAs and 12 Independents. However, it appears to be in a crisis at present. On Monday, the BSP MLAs.
‘Ready to carry on fighting BJP-RSS but not as chief’
CONGRESS President Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have told leaders at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday that he was ready to carry the ideological battle against the BJP-RSS but does not want to be bogged down by routine matters and they should choose a new party chief from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family. A party leader said told IANS that Rahul Gandhi was quite firm on his offer to resign and did not agree to suggestions from party leaders that he can appoint a Working President or a vice chief for routine party affairs. The CWC meeting was called to discuss the debacle suffered by the party in the Lok Sabha elections - the second since 2014. Gandhi, who took moral responsibility for the party’s defeat, told the meeting that he would actively work with the person chosen by the party in his place. He is learnt to have said India needs an ideological fight against the BJP and its ideological patron, the RSS, and he “was ready for that” but conveyed that he does not want to be bogged down by matters such as appointments of district Congress chiefs as these were taking a lot of his time. “I am not running away,” he told the CWC members, as per the party leader. Staying firm on his offer to resign, Gandhi had said that the next person “need not be from the family” and referred leaders from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family who have led the party in the past. As Gandhi stayed firm on his offer of resignation, suggestions poured in noisily from other members that he can appoint a Working President or a Vice President but he did not relent. Congress leaders said that if he had agreed, there was scope for a further discussion but with his response, there was no further progress on the matter. A few members at the meeting also raked up the alleged manipulation of electronic voting machines (EVMs) but others said that nothing should be said without proof. The resolution adopted by the CWC unanimously on Saturday rejected Gandhi’s offer to resign and “requested” him to provide “his leadership and guidance in these challenging times”. It unanimously called on Gandhi to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of India’s youth, the farmers, the SC/ST/OBCs, the minorities, the poor and the deprived sections.