Congress MPs plead, Rahul firm on quitting
Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday stuck to his decision to step down as Congress president despite a passionate plea from party Lok Sabha MPs to change his mind.
A meeting of Congress Lok Sabha members that Sonia Gandhi had called to discuss parliamentary strategy was dominated by concern at Rahul’s decision to quit.
Sonia, who chaired the meeting, did not speak but the around 10 MPs who did agreed that Rahul’s absence would weaken the party at a critical time.
Rahul, who felt this meeting was not the right place to discuss party leadership, asserted that he was not going to change his mind.
The MPs said the blame for the election rout could not be pinned on a single individual and insisted that everybody thought Rahul had provided exemplary leadership under difficult circumstances.
Some argued the Congress would fall into the BJP’s trap if Rahul stepped aside and its downslide would become irreversible.
But Rahul said firmly that he had decided long before the results that he would resign if he failed. He said he had to own moral responsibility as the party leader.
The MPs were equally insistent. While some wanted to pass a formal resolution, others felt this would be superfluous since the meeting had unanimously resolved to continue under Rahul’s leadership, thus rejecting his desire to quit.
The Congress Working Committee has already rejected Rahul’s resignation offer.
On Wednesday morning, Youth Congress members demonstrated in front of Rahul’s residence, entreating him to continue as party president.
Holding placards saying “Nation needs you” and “Without you, we are nothing”, Youth Congress members from across the country sat on a dharna outside 12 Tughlaq Lane and chanted slogans seeking his continuance.
Some Congress workers ran a social media campaign under the hashtag #MyLeaderRahulGandhi that trended for hours with over 40,000 tweets.
Appeals poured in from state unit chiefs too. Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda tweeted: “Rahul Gandhi ji has led the Congress from the front in most difficult times. Instances of hatred, violence are on the rise across the country, the very idea of India is under threat. We need you Rahul ji now more than ever to guide us through these tough times.”
Among the party seniors, who have discussed the matter among themselves, the overwhelming opinion is that the Congress would sink without the stewardship of Rahul and Sonia as they alone have nationwide acceptability.
Some, however, backed Rahul’s decision arguing such a drastic step alone could shake up the Congress and convince the entrenched forces about the need for a new structure.
Everyone in the party, however, accepts that Rahul alone can steer the Congress out of the mess and that he has to remain deeply involved in a leadership role even if a new president is appointed to look after the nitty-gritty of the organisation.
“Rahul is indisputably the face of the party. If a mechanism is put in place to run the organisation, he will be free to lead the political campaign. The top leadership should explain this arrangement clearly to the ordinary workers,” a Congress insider said.
Sources said Rahul had agreed to meet party leaders from the poll-bound states only because he didn’t want to be irresponsible till a new structure was in place.
Rahul will meet Congress leaders from Haryana, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir over the next three days. Leaders from the Delhi unit too are expected to meet him.