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Posted at: May 26, 2019, 6:57 AM; last updated: May 26, 2019, 7:53 PM (IST)POLL ROUT

Rahul: Why not non-Gandhi?

Congress Working Committee rejects offer to resign
Rahul: Why not non-Gandhi?
GOD HELP US Congress president Rahul Gandhi with former party chief Sonia Gandhi at the CWC meeting. Mukesh Aggarwal

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 25

Two days after the Congress was decimated in the Lok Sabha elections, party president Rahul Gandhi offered to resign at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which unanimously rejected the move, while authorising him to overhaul the party as the way forward.

Rahul, 48, in a significant move, today set the ball rolling for the idea of a non-Gandhi Congress president by telling the CWC that he didn’t want to be party chief and would rather devote full time to propagating the ideology of the grand old party and its idea of India.

“Anyone can be Congress president,” he is learnt to have said at a four-hour marathon meeting, insisting that it could also be a non-Gandhi. The meeting, attended by all party veterans, including UPA chief Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, former ministers AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Kumari Selja, ended with two resolutions.

One rejected Gandhi’s resignation offer, but authorised him to conduct a complete restructuring of the party, at all levels. The other accepted the 2019 verdict “with utmost humility, thanking the 12.13 crore people who voted for the Congress”. The resolution giving sweeping powers to Gandhi was passed even before he spoke. The idea was to preempt his resignation.

The resolution was moved by Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in the last Lok Sabha, and was unanimously passed. It is learnt that Chidambaram got emotional while asking Gandhi not to consider quitting. A CWC source said Chidambaram pointed to potential “mass suicides in the South if that happened”.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh seconded Kharge and backed Rahul Gandhi as party president.

It is learnt that there was a macro-level debate on the  factors that led to a Congress rout and BJP’s sweep and the leaders were divided on blaming the EVMs.

Some like Ahmed Patel and Azad pointed to the possibilities of EVM tampering, with Capt Amarinder  himself saying he had as long back as in 1996 challenged the EVMs when then Chief Election Commissioner MS Gill brought these.

“If most developed countries have discontinued the EVMs, why can’t we?” he s aid in the meeting, where leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and RPN Singh deflected the debate from EVMs, saying the real reasons behind Modi’s wave needed to be anticipated.

Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala later officially confirmed that the CWC deliberated on the “partisan conduct of elections by the EC”.

Amid reports that Gandhi was insistent on resigning, Surjewala said, “The CWC has unanimously rejected Congress president’s offer of resignation.”

The hint was that since the CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress, had rejected Gandhi’s resignation, he was bound to continue in his position while he restructured the party the way he wanted, which could mean he could explore new options of conducting his affairs, and may be even experiment with a non-Gandhi Congress president.

AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told Rahul, her brother, not to resign as by doing so he would be falling into the BJP's trap.

You fought very well, says Capt

I know you have the qualities of leading the party back to its old glory. You fought very well. You have all the qualities of a leader. — Capt Amarinder Singh, punjab CM

Performance not disastrous: Antony

Congress’ LS performance was not disastrous and the party only failed to meet the expectations of the people.—  AK Antony, Senior Congress leader


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