Agencies, New Delhi
Crisis mounted in the Congress party after Rahul Gandhi insisted that he will step aside as the party president taking moral responsibility over the disastrous show in the Lok Sabha polls, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other key leaders met the Congress chief here on Tuesday.
The meeting was held amid the reports that party’s highest decision making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) may be called again within next 3-4 days.
The CWC met on Saturday in Delhi and rejected Mr Gandhi’s offer to quit and had authorised him to take all necessary drastic steps to restructure the party.
The meeting at the Congress president’s Tughlaq Road residence was also attended by Rajasthan deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, AICC communication in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala and party’s organisational general secretary KC Venugopal.
It is learnt that the duo from Rajasthan had called on Mr Gandhi as discontent spread among the party leadership and some Ministers have resigned citing ‘moral responsibility’ for the rout.
Senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s trusted aide and Mr Venugopal had, on Monday met Mr Gandhi.
Mr Patel later tweeted and said that the meeting was for ‘routine administrative work’.
Meanwhile, former Assam Chief Minister and CWC member Tarun Gogoi confirmed that Mr Gandhi was ‘extremely upset with some senior leaders’ at the meeting.
Talking to a private TV Channel, Mr Gogoi revealed that Mr Gandhi had informed leaders in the meeting that “I am not running away, I will fight even more. If I am not looking after the Congress party, then I can fight the ideology”.
According to sources, Mr Gandhi had conveyed to Mr Patel and Mr Venugopal that he is ready to continue for a month till the party finds a ‘suitable alternative’.
Meanwhile RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Tuesday described Mr Gandhi’s offer to resign as suicidal.
“Rahul’s offer to resign 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”, Mr Yadav tweeted.
In Tamil Nadu, actor turned politician, Rajinikanth also said that Mr Gandhi should not resign.
“I won’t say he lacks leadership qualities. I think it is really difficult to handle the Congress party, where senior- most people are there,” he said.
The fact that the election results have upset the leadership can be understood as since May 23, Mr Gandhi has so far not met the newly elected MPs.
The Congress Working Committee decision on Saturday, had ‘unanimously rejected’ Mr Gandhi’s offer of resignation and said on the contrary, the Congress president has been given a free hand to make all necessary and radical changes to restructure the party.
In the fiercely contested elections, the Congress party could win only 52 seats against BJP’s 303 and it is for the second time the grand old party could not put up an impressive show under the leadership of Mr Gandhi.
More than the central level, the crisis for Congress seems to be deepening in states as so far six Pradesh Congress Chiefs have put in their papers taking the moral responsibility for the party’s poor show.
Among those, who resigned are state unit presidents of UP (Raj Babbar), Punjab (Sunil Jakhar), Assam (Ripun Bora), Jharkhand (Ajoy Roy), Odisha (Niranjan Patnaik) and Maharashtra (Ashok Chavan).
In Karnataka, campaign committee chairman HK Patil and Yogendra Mishra, president of district Congress Committee- Amethi, where Mr Gandhi suffered setback, also have tendered their resignations.