New Delhi, May 28 Rahul Gandhi remained adamant on stepping down as Congress president in wake of the poll drubbing , many leaders — within the Congress and outside — have appealed to him not to take such a ‘suicidal step’.
Not only was the party in crisis at the central level, but its state units in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka also looked in disarray and vulnerable to a collapse.
Lalu Prasad said that if the Congress makes a non-Gandhi the party president, they will be accused of being a “puppet” of the Gandhi family. “Why should Rahul give such an opportunity to his political detractors?” said Lalu Prasad.
Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad termed Rahul Gandhi’s proposal to resign as Congress chief suicidal and said it would amount to “falling into the Bharatya Janata Party’s trap”.
“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,” Lalu Prasad said in a tweet.
Led by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a host of party leaders met the angry Congress President at his residence through the day and Gandhi is believed to have conveyed to them that he could at best lead the party in Parliament as the chief of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).
He is believed to have conveyed to the party leaders that he was “not running away” but wanted that someone else should lead the Congress, not necessarily from his family.
Gandhi cited past examples when the party was led by leaders from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family, according to a senior leader.
As he stayed firm on quitting, suggestions poured in noisily from other members that he should not do so but appoint a Working President or a Vice President to look after day-to-day functioning.
Congress leaders said that if he had agreed to withdraw his resignation, there was scope for further discussion but because of his response there is no further progress on the matter.
Besides Priyanka Gandhi, who stayed with her brother for most of the day, those who met Gandhi included party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
With Gandhi remaining adamant, a presidium system to govern the party is being considered, wherein a group of senior leaders will run the show.
Gandhi is not willing to take the position of leader of the Congress in the lower House and rather eager to continue the ideological battle against the BJP and its mentor RSS in and outside Parliament.
The party is in deep crisis as resignations by senior leaders are piling up across the states ever since its poor show in the Lok Sabha polls in which it bagged only 52 seats in the 543-member House. The number is just 8 more than it got in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi, in the wake of the party’s poll debacle, had offered to resign during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held on Saturday last but it was unanimously rejected.