Rahul firm on quitting, Congress to choose successor

Congress President Rahul Gandhi. (PTI file photo)

For the first time since his offer to resign as Congress president, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday made it clear that he was determined to step aside and the party would decide on his successor.

"I will not decide who will be the next Congress president," Rahul told reporters in Parliament when asked to comment on reports about Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot succeeding him to the top party post.

"No such thing," Rahul shot back to another question on Gehlot's elevation as Congress president.

At the same time, Rahul dropped clear hints that he was firm on stepping down by asserting on the need to have "accountability in the system".

This is Rahul's first public assertion on sticking to his decision to step down as Congress president, despite the Congress Working Committee (CWC) rejecting his resignation offer made on May 25, two days after the party's rout in the Lok Sabha elections.

With Rahul remaining adamant on quitting, the Congress leadership is exploring the idea of appointing a working president or a collegium of 11-15 leaders to take collective decisions to take care of the daily functioning of the party.

Besides Gehlot, the names of Mallikarjun Kharge, A K Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde and Mukul Wasnik have been doing the rounds as probable choice for the post of Congress president.

The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the party, had given Rahul a free hand to overhaul and restructure the party organisation at all levels.

Rahul had taken “100% responsibility” for the Congress' successive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and asked the party to look beyond the Gandhi family to lead the party.

Earlier this week, the Congress appointed former West Bengal unit president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as its leader in the Lok Sabha after Rahul refused to take up the post.

Rahul had been selective in his meetings with Congress leaders since the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, but made an exception on Wednesday as several top leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, met him to greet as he turned 49.

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