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Posted at: May 27, 2019, 6:48 AM; last updated: May 27, 2019, 6:48 AM (IST)

Unease in Congress after Rahul, Priyanka’s hard talk at CWC meet

AICC gen secy says no one stood by her brother, was lone ranger
Unease in Congress after Rahul, Priyanka’s hard talk at CWC meet
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka at the party HQs in New Delhi. Tribune file

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26

There is unease in top Congress circles after some hard talk by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general gecretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Saturday which was called to introspect the party’s poor performance in the elections. 

CWC sources said the Gandhi siblings were upset with the larger leadership, with Priyanka saying her brother was a lone ranger during the campaign and no one quite stood by him. She asked those pledging support to Rahul and asking him to continue leading the party, “where were you when he was campaigning alone.” 

 Advised by former MP Jyotiraditya Scindia to empower state leaders to revive the party, Rahul is learnt to have done some plain speaking. “Here are our state leaders and what did they do? Mr P Chidambaram threatened to resign, should his son not be given the ticket; Mr Kamal Nath said how could he be CM if his son did not get the ticket; Mr Ashok Gehlot spent a week campaigning for his son, who did not win. Nor did the party win a single seat in Rajasthan,” he is quoted to have said. 

One CWC source said Rahul rued being “blackmailed” within the party.

It was in this backdrop that he proposed stepping aside, adding no one should suggest his sister’s name as replacement. “Why should a non-Gandhi not be party president,” he asked. Rahul and Priyanka both appeared convinced that lack of collective focus on the Rafale campaign and “Chowkidar chor hai” slogan helped the BJP win.  Priyanka is reported to have observed: “Those responsible for the Congress defeat are present in this room.” But many party leaders feel the “Chowkidar chor hai” campaign pulled Congress down.

The sources said Priyanka wore a glum look and did not greet anyone, losing her cool at times. Former minister AK Antony at one time reportedly appealed to the gathering to ensure nothing got “leaked outside.” 

Young members Gaurav Gogoi and Deepender Hooda are learnt to have stood near Rahul, saying they would not let him quit. Some leaders in private wondered how most of Rahul and Priyanka staff members were allowed at the meeting.

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