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'Adamant' Rahul Gandhi wants to step down as Congress chief, party rejects reports as 'gossip'

The Congress Won Only 52 Out Of 542 Parliamentary Seats In The Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Just Six More Than Its 2014 Tally. The Party Could Not Open Its Account In 18 States And Union Territories.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Aniruddha Dhar | Updated on: 28 May 2019, 12:18:59 AM
Rahul Gandhi is adamant on stepping down from the post of Congress president. (PTI/file)

Rahul Gandhi is adamant on stepping down from the post of Congress president. (PTI/file)

New Delhi:

Faced with a colossal electoral defeat, Rahul Gandhi is adamant on stepping down from the post of Congress president and has refused to meet the party's newly elected MPs, according to reports. Quoting Congress sources as saying, news agency PTI reported that Rahul Gandhi is insisting on resigning his post and is understood to have conveyed to several leaders that it is time for the grand old party to look for a new chief.

The Congress won only 52 out of 542 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha elections 2019, just six more than its 2014 tally. The party could not open its account in 18 states and union territories.

Taking responsibility for the defeat, Gandhi on Saturday offered to resign as party president at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, but it was "unanimously rejected".

In the midst of the disquiet, several state Congress chiefs, including Punjab's Sunil Jakhar, Jharkhand's Ajoy Kumar and Assam's Ripun Bora, also offered to resign following the party's drubbing in the elections, party insiders said.

As the party grapples with a severe existential crisis, its governments in both Karnataka and Rajasthan face a tough time with reports suggesting the BJP may try to wrest power in both states.

It is learnt that Congress legislators Ramesh Jarkiholi and Dr Sudhakar visited BJP leader SM Krishna's residence in Bengaluru on Sunday along with several other BJP leaders and they are understood to have deliberated on dethroning the incumbent dispensation.

Sources said a number of Congress legislators in Karnataka are understood to be unhappy over the party's electoral loss. In Rajasthan, there have been reports of internal turmoil with several ministers demanding fixing of accountability and seeking action against those responsible for the poll debacle in the state.

The Congress drew a blank in Rajasthan as the NDA won all 25 seats. In Karnataka, where it formed a government with the JD(S) in May last year, the Congress managed to win only one Lok Sabha seat out of 28.

The party was crushed in most of the 29 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it had defeated BJP in the assembly polls in December.

NDTV reported that on Monday, Rahul Gandhi told senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and KC Venugopal that the party will have to find a new chief as his decision stands.

Sources told the news channel that Rahul Gandhi "won't abandon the post" even though he is determined to quit, and will give the party time to choose a new person for the top job.

Rahul Gandhi's mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reportedly agree with his decision, and acknowledge that the Congress "has to come to terms with the fact that there has to be a change of guard" and a total reset, NDTV quoted sources as saying.

As crisis beset the opposition party, its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Monday urged everyone to respect the sanctity of the CWC meeting and asked the media not to fall into the trap of "conjectures, insinuations, gossip and rumour-mongering".

Surjewala said it is a democratic forum for exchange of ideas and taking corrective action. It was a "closed-door" meeting and any speculation about it was unwarranted and uncalled for, he added.

He was reacting to news reports about happenings at the May 25 meeting, the first of the CWC after the Congress's humiliating defeat in the parliamentary polls.

"The Congress party expects everyone, including the media, to respect the sanctity of a closed-door meeting of the CWC. Various conjectures, speculation, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour-mongering in a section of the media is uncalled for and unwarranted.

"The CWC held a collective deliberation on the performance of the party, the challenges before it as also the way ahead, instead of casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual. The gist of the deliberations was made public in the CWC resolution of May 25, 2019," the Congress leader said in a statement.

(With PTI inputs)

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First Published : 27 May 2019, 10:27:00 PM