Nagpur : Rahul Gandhi remains firm on quitting as Congress president after the party’s national election rout but may agree to lead the party in the Lok Sabha, sources say after he held a series of meetings with party leaders this morning. Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot were among visitors to his Delhi home on Tuesday. Sources say the Congress chief has called a meeting at his home at 4.30 pm today.
Here are the latest developments in this big story :
Sources say Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elected chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party. He will then decide on who will lead the party in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
But Rahul Gandhi has refused to change his mind on quitting as party chief, a decision he conveyed at a post-mortem by the Congress Working Committee on Saturday.
“He will not change his mind, though I want him to continue,” said Tarun Gogoi, a member of the Congress Working Committee. Mr Gogoi said Rahul Gandhi was extremely upset with senior leaders of the party. “He was not happy with some of our seniors. The way they behaved, he felt they should have worked hard but they were not up to his expectations,” the former Assam Chief Minister told.
He said Rahul Gandhi was asked in the meeting whether a “general should run away”. “He said I am not running away. I will fight even more. If I am not looking after the Congress party, then I can fight the ideology,” Mr Gogoi revealed.
On Monday, Rahul Gandhi, 48, told two Congress leaders, Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal, to look for his replacement, according to sources. Ahmed Patel, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi, denied it and said it was a meeting for “routine administrative work”.
Sources say the party is coming to terms with Rahul Gandhi’s resolve and the possibility of another chief. The new chief has to be approved by all three Gandhis – Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi – say sources.
At the Saturday meeting, Rahul Gandhi also asked the leaders not to consider his mother and sister as his replacement, throwing the party into more turmoil. In its 134-year history, the Congress has been led mostly by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family and has not done very well under the rare non-Gandhi, like Sitaram Kesri.
The Congress failed to win a single seat in 18 states and union territories and won only 52 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha – not enough to qualify even for the post of Leader of Opposition (a party needs 55 for that).
It lost even in the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh that it won in December, and failed the test in Karnataka, which it has been ruling since last May in alliance with HD Kumaraswamy. The Congress is firefighting to keep its governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka, where the BJP is breathing down its neck.
The Congress’s complete collapse is encapsulated by Mr Gandhi’s defeat in his constituency Amethi, which has been loyal to the Gandhi family for three decades.
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