'Have Made Up My Mind': Adamant Rahul Refuses to Continue as Congress Chief Despite Pleas by Party

The idea of a collective leadership in Congress looks promising but on the practical side, the proposal has the potential of turning into a mine field.

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday told Congress leaders he stands firm on his decision to quit as party president, despite a section of the leadership pressing for status quo after the second consecutive drubbing for the party in the Lok Sabha polls.

The issue was broached in a meeting of Congress MPs called by parliamentary party leader and former president Sonia Gandhi.

Sources have told News18.com that two MPs, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari, requested Rahul Gandhi to lead the party as the responsibility of the defeat could not be attributed to just one person. In response, Gandhi told party MPs that he had already made up his mind and would stick to the decision.

In the last one week though, the Congress president has interacted with a few party leaders of poll-bound states such as Haryana and Maharashtra, triggering speculations that he may reconsider his decision to resign announced in the first meeting of the Congress Working Committee after the poll results were declared last month.

Some senior Congress leaders also met in Delhi earlier this week to discuss the current political situation, with a section planning to press upon the party leadership to persuade Rahul Gandhi to continue in office.

Rahul Gandhi had first offered to quit as party chief during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on May 25, which was called to analyse the party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections, in which it managed to win just 52 seats. Senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal, Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma were present in the meeting.

The CWC had unanimously rejected his offer to quit but Rahul Gandhi has remained firm on his stand. "Rahul ji was, is and will remain the Congress president. We have no doubt about it," Surjewala had told reporters when asked about the situation arising out of Gandhi's offer to resign.

On Sunday, senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that it would be best if Rahul Gandhi remains party chief but added that "his own wishes must also be respected". “I am sure we can survive if we have to without a Nehru-Gandhi as the titular head of the party, provided the Nehru-Gandhis remain active in the party and can help resolve a crisis in case serious differences arise,” Aiyar said in an interview.

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