Updated: May 30, 2019 6:58:52 am
Even as uncertainty in the Congress continued with Rahul Gandhi remaining firm on his decision to step down as Congress president, the party on Wednesday reached out to “like-minded” opposition parties, inviting them for a meeting on Friday. Some of the top opposition leaders have already asked Rahul to reconsider his decision to resign and there could be more pressure on him to stay on when opposition leaders meet.
Sources said a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party will be held on Saturday, possibly to elect its leader and the party’s leader in Lok Sabha. Firm on his decision to step down, Rahul is said to be open to leading his party in Lok Sabha although the leader of the Congress will not get the Leader of the Opposition status as it does not have 55 MPs or ten per cent of the total strength.
Sources said senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel has started calling leaders of “like-minded” opposition parties, inviting them for a meeting in Parliament House on Friday, ostensibly to discuss the post-verdict situation and issues related to EVMs.
In Bengaluru, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said he would request Rahul to continue as Congress president. “I will request him (Rahul) to continue. Tomorrow I will be meeting him,” the JD(S) leader said.
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Nevertheless, top Congress leaders have started discussing possible options if Rahul refuses to relent. Some of the leaders said that if Rahul does not relent and the party is pushed to name a new president, then the choice should send a larger political message to its support base and beyond it. In that context, some of the leaders said the question would be what kind of signal the party would want to send — it may be either geographical or social.
The party will then have to decide whether to opt for a person from South India, which has stood behind the party in this election, or from the Hindi heartland where the Congress will have to make considerable efforts to regain long lost ground. Or to send out a message to social groups, by appointing either a Dalit or a person from an upper caste. If it is a Dalit, party leaders said Mallikarjun Kharge or Sushil Kumar Shinde probably fit the bill.
Meanwhile, Congress workers led by Sheila Dikshit gathered outside Rahul’s 12, Tughlaq lane residence on Wednesday to urge him to stay on. Dikshit went in but remained silent on whether she was able to meet Rahul. Sources said she could not meet Rahul but left a message. Rahul had not met Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, his deputy Sachin Pilot and AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal who went to his residence Tuesday. Among the party leaders who turned up outside Rahul’s residence were Jagdish Tytler.
Congress units in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Goa have passed resolutions, urging Rahul to stay on as Congress chief. The party’s unit in Tamil Nadu took out a rally Wednesday, urging him to continue at the helm.
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