New Delhi, May 26:The Congress on Saturday rejected party president Rahul Gandhi’s offer of resignation amid dramatic scenes that saw him accept responsiblity for the Lok Sabha election debacle even as he lashed out at senior leaders for putting the interests of their sons ahead of the party.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met to deliberate on the defeat, saw an angry Rahul Gandhi blame party veterans for pushing for tickets for their sons. His intervention came after Jyotiraditya Scindia argued that the party needs to groom strong local leaders.
Rahul pointed out that the Congress had done badly in states where it was in power. He went on to add that CMs Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan and Kamal Nath of Madhya Pradesh had insisted on tickets for their sons even when he was not in favour of accepting their requests. He also mentioned former Union minister P Chidambaram’s name in this context.
Appearing overwrought in the wake of the massive defeat, Rahul also accused party leaders of not taking forward the issues that he had raised in the campaign to build a strong narrative against the BJP and its mascot Narendra Modi.
Why only us? Anyone can be Cong chief, says Rahul
Sources said Rahul specifically mentioned the Rafale deal and the associated slogan “chowkidar chor hai”, asking for a show of hand by CWC members who had followed his suit. Saying that he wanted accountability in the organisation, Rahul accepted responsibility for the defeat and announced that he was quitting his post as the party chief. It triggered emotional scenes with senior leaders arguing that he had led from the front and there was no reason for him to be disheartened.
After A K Antony, Ahmed Patel and Chidambaram sought to comfort him, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Rahul would be falling into the BJP’s trap if he quit. Other leaders also chimed in, urging him to stay put. Interestingly, a veteran said there was nobody to step into his shoes and that “workers would commit suicide” if he stepped down. The CWC later rejected his offer of resignation and told him that he had full freedom to take all measures necessary for organisational overhaul of the party at all levels.
Though the offer was anticipated since the CWC meeting was convened on the evening of election results, what triggered commotion in the gathering was that Rahul refused to relent even as senior members, including former PM Manmohan Singh, tried to coax him out of his stance. Interestingly, according to sources, when one participant remarked who else could lead the party, Rahul interjected, “Why only us?” It was viewed as a reference to the Gandhi family. Rahul apparently said anyone could become the Congress president.