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  India   Politics  29 May 2019  Rahul Gandhi firm; Lalu, Stalin join ‘don’t quit’ chorus

Rahul Gandhi firm; Lalu, Stalin join ‘don’t quit’ chorus

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 29, 2019, 1:52 am IST
Updated : May 29, 2019, 1:52 am IST

Lalu Prasad Yadav termed Gandhi’s offer to resign as “suicidal” and said it would amount to “falling into the BJP’s trap”.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)
 Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The upheaval in the Congress continued for the fifth consecutive day as Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday refused to budge from his stand of resigning as party chief, while allies DMK and RJD joined the chorus of voices urging him not to quit.

Sources said there are several suggestions being floated in the Congress to make Mr Gandhi change his mind. One of them relates to creating posts of working presidents who take calls on day-to-day party issues while Mr Gandhi remains the president. The other option is that Mr Gandhi leads the Congress in the Lok Sabha and a new party president is appointed. However, none of these proposals have been approved by the high command.

After turning away a number of party leaders a day earlier, Mr Gandhi interacted with some of visitors on Tuesday at his Tughlaq Lane residence, including his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and general secretary K.C. Venugopal.

He also met Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot amid rumblings of discontent in the state after he and Ms Vadra are alleged to have “criticised” Mr Gehlot over the washout in the desert state.

Amid talk of another Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in the next few days, party leaders continued to urge Mr Gandhi to reconsider his resignation.

Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit appealed to Mr Gandhi to withdraw his decision to step down, saying the party has bounced back in the past from challenging circumstances.

Shashi Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, said, “While Rahulji has bravely taken full responsibility for the defeat, we all are responsible for what went wrong and we all have a responsibility to ensure the party’s revival.”

Sources said Mr Tharoor and former MP from Guna Jyotiraditya Scindia are among the names doing the rounds as possible successors to Mr Gandhi.

Adding to the chorus of voices urging Mr Gandhi not to quit, Congress allies DMK and RJD said that Mr Gandhi should continue in his post as he remains the “best and competent” person to pull the party out of the crisis after the Lok Sabha poll debacle.

Mr Stalin spoke with the Congress top leader over phone and said, “You have won the hearts of the people.”

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav termed Mr Gandhi’s offer to resign as “suicidal” and
said it would amount to “falling into the BJP’s trap”.

Mr Gandhi’s offer to step down as Congress president would not only be suicidal for his party but for all the social and political forces battling against the Sangh Parivar, Mr Yadav said in an analysis of the Lok Sabha poll results published in an English daily, the link of which he shared on his Twitter handle.

“Rahul’s offer to resign is suicidal. Opposition parties had the common goal to dislodge BJP but failed to build a national narrative. The result in a particular election can never alter the reality in as diverse and plural a country as India,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Rajasthan Congress after the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls deepened on Tuesday with two more leaders voicing their disappointment over the party’s poor performance despite an advisory from the party against making public statements.

Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Sushil Asopa said the state unit chief Sachin Pilot should have been made chief minister instead of Mr Gehlot.

Jaipur former mayor Jyoti Khandelwal, who was also the Congress candidate in the Lok Sabha polls, blamed poor booth management for her own defeat and sought a detailed analysis.

Earlier, Rajasthan ministers Udai Lal Anjana and Ramesh Meena had demanded introspection and a detailed analysis of the defeat. Agriculture minister Lalchand Kataria on Sunday had announced his “resignation” from the state Cabinet.

AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Avinash Pande, has advised party workers against airing their views in public. “Congress leaders and workers should refrain from giving public statements. A review meeting on the election results will be held soon and every Congress man will have a chance to express his thoughts,” he said.

Rajasthan BJP leaders on Tuesday added to the uncertainty surrounding the state Congress by saying that several ruling party MLAs are “unhappy” and the Gehlot government “might fall”.

“I have heard that the BSP MLAs here are unhappy and so are 20-25 Congress MLAs. I don’t want to comment further on this,” said Gyandev Ahuja, Rajasthan BJP vice-president, according to news agency ANI

As the Congress fights to retain its governments in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, party sources said the crisis over the party president’s resignation is going to makes the party’s job of fire fighting in these states more difficult

Meanwhile, the BJP reacted sarcastically to the developments following Mr Gandhi’s offer to resign from the top party post. Party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said it will be good for the BJP if Mr Gandhi helms the Congress for five more decades.

“If Rahul Gandhi continues, there is no hope for the Opposition. From the BJP perspective, we will be happy if Rahul Gandhi continues for next 50 years,” said Mr Sarma, who joined the BJP in 2015 after a 14-year stint with the Congress.

He, however, cautioned that Mr Gandhi’s continuation in the post will be bad for democracy.

“But for all democracy, you need a vibrant Opposition and as long as Rahul Gandhi is the face of the Congress and Opposition, that is not going to happen.

Tags: rahul gandhi, m.k. stalin