Rahul Gandhi may offer to quit as party chief

Rahul Gandhi (Photo AFP)

The Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday could witness a watershed moment with party President Rahul Gandhi offering to quit owning up responsibility for the humiliating debacle in the Lok Sabha elections which saw him failing to retain his family bastion Amethi.

Resignations of party leaders have started trickling in with presidents of the Uttar Pradesh and Odisha units of the Congress sending in letters to Rahul, thus building up moral pressure on him to follow suit.

The Congress President had already owned up 100% responsibility for the party's performance at the hustings, the first since he assumed the reins of the party in December 2017.

After the defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the then vice president Rahul had offered to quit only to be prevailed upon by party leaders who credited them for keeping the party united.

Anticipating Rahul's move, Congress leaders have started rallying around their president and complimenting him for raising issues – jobs, economy and agrarian distress – that affected the common man.

“On many such times people also get carried away,” Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, one of the closest advisors of Rahul, said contending that Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out a high-pitched campaign around nationalism and religious polarisation.

The unprecedented defeat also raised questions over the Gandhi-Nehru family, but Congress leaders were unwilling find fault with the glue that binds the party.

“The Congress will cease to exist without the family,” senior Congress leader Anil Shastri said.


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Senior West Bengal Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya echoed Shastri's views. “If not Rahul, who else is there,” he asked.

Daggers were out in the Congress, with senior leaders questioning the Congress campaign for the Lok Sabha polls that failed to strike a chord with the voters, thus setting the stage for the meeting of the CWC, which would deliberate on the party's loss in the Lok Sabha elections.

At the CWC meet on Saturday, Rahul and other party leaders are expected to give their assessment of what went wrong and the remedial steps that must be taken.

Internal squabbles also came to the fore with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh targeting his ministerial colleague Navjyot Singh Sidhu after the loss of Congress candidates in some seats in Punjab.

Sidhu and Amarinder have been at loggerheads and the impact was seen during the Lok Sabha campaign. While Sidhu campaigned for Congress candidates in other states, he stayed away from electioneering in Punjab an only put up a token presence when Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed rallies and roadshows in the state.

Congress failed to open it account in 19 states/union territories in the Lok Sabha polls and managed to win one seat in big states such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

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