Rahul firm on quitting, wants non-Gandhi Congress chief

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday made it clear to senior colleagues that he is intent on quitting as Congress president after the party’s disastrous showing in the Lok Sabha polls, and wants his party to look for someone outside the Gandhi family to replace him, party sources told DH.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s apex decision-making body, which met during the day, passed a unanimous resolution expressing total faith in Rahul’s leadership, but will now have to try and convince him to stay on at another meeting in the next few days.

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If they are unsuccessful, they may ask Rahul to name his replacement, though it is not clear whether a leadership election will follow.

The sources said that at the nearly four-hour long meeting, Rahul voiced his anguish over the party’s poor show even in those states in which it had recently won assembly polls. He said that he took full responsibility for the showing. Though he wishes to demit the presidency, he wants to continue to work for the party, he said.

The meeting was attended by Rahul’s mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who campaigned extensively in the election but was unable to make a difference to the result.

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Congress was at pains to stress the party’s faith in Rahul, whose humiliating personal loss of the family’s bastion of Amethi marked the lowest point in a dismal collective showing.

Half a dozen leaders were trotted out to address a press conference after the CWC meeting, including veterans A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad as well as youngsters Gourav Gogoi and Sushmita Dev.

Azad said he had never seen a CWC meeting in which the elders as well as the younger lot of Congress expressed such an unanimity for the leadership. However, the leaders had no categorical answer to whether Rahul responded favourably to their unanimous rejection of his offer to resign.

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“Congress President, Shri Rahul Gandhi in his address to the CWC offered his resignation, as the party president. The CWC unanimously and with one voice rejected the same and requested the Congress President for his leadership and guidance in these challenging times. The CWC unanimously called upon the Congress President, Shri Rahul Gandhi to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of India’s youth, the farmers, the SC/ST/OBC’s, the minorities, the poor and the deprived sections,” the resolution said.

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