Firm on stepping down after the Congress’ debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi Wednesday reiterated that he is “no longer the party president” and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) must soon decide on his replacement.
“Party should decide on the new president quickly without further delay, I am nowhere in this process. I have already submitted my resignation and I am no longer the party president. CWC should convene a meeting at the earliest and decide (who to appoint as Congress president),” Rahul Gandhi told news agency ANI.
Gandhi also tweeted a four-page letter in which he said “we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle”.
“As president of the Congress party, I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election. Accountability is critical for the future growth of out party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president,” he wrote.
On the party choosing its next president, he wrote: “Many of my colleagues suggested that I nominate the next Congress president. While it is important for someone new to lead out party, it would not be correct for me to select that person.”
“I trust the party will make the best decision regarding who can lead us with courage, love and fidelity,” he added.
It is an honour for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation.
I owe the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love.
Jai Hind 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/WWGYt5YG4V
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 3, 2019
While the drama surrounding Rahul’s decision has been dragging on for over a month now, sources in the party said a resolution is not in sight for at least a week.
Party leaders told The Indian Express that Rahul and Sonia will travel abroad later this week to visit Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband Robert Vadra, who is said to have either undergone or is slated to undergo a surgery at an undisclosed location. Priyanka is already said to be abroad.
One party leader said Rahul and Sonia could leave by Saturday, and any decision to end the stalemate can be expected only by July 10 or afterwards.
Within an hour of sharing his open letter on Twitter, Gandhi has removed “Congress president” from his profile. It now reads – “This is the official account of Rahul Gandhi | Member of the Indian National Congress | Member of Parliament.”
On Monday, Gandhi met Chief Ministers of the five Congress-ruled states who asked him to reconsider his decision to step down as Congress president. But Rahul did not give any indication that he intended to change his mind, signalling that the crisis that has hit the party is far from over.
The meeting was with five chief ministers — Gehlot, Nath, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh and Puducherry’s V Narayanasamy.
Leaders in the party have maintained that Rahul should stay on as party president.
Earlier, at the first CWC meeting convened after the poll results, sources said he had come down heavily on Gehlot and Nath, accusing them of having put the interests of their sons ahead of that of the party. Despite requests, he had earlier denied to meet them.
Rahul is said to be upset that none of those state leaders and in charges under whose watch the party fared badly have owned up responsibility and resigned — even after he decided to step down on the principle of accountability.
The Congress could win only 52 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, only 6 more than its 2014 tally, while the BJP single-handedly won 303 seats, staking claim to form the government for a second consecutive term. With Gandhi firm on his decision to step down, the Congress is facing a crisis unparalleled in its recent history, with several leaders now calling for mass resignations.
Reacting to the fresh development, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said unlike the Congress, the organisational structure is already in place in the BJP.
“In BJP, the (organisational) election and membership timetable is ready. Work has also started. We also have a working president. If nothing is happening in the other party, what can I do,” Prakash Javadekar said after a briefing of the Cabinet.
When asked to comment on Gandhi’s resignation, another Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar told news agency PTI, “We can thank the other party.” And Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed it is a “brand new drama of the grand old party and we have nothing to do with it”.