Congress president Rahul Gandhi offered to resign on Saturday during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which in turn refused to accept his resignation. Instead, the top decision-making body of the party asked Gandhi to continue in the top post and authorised him to take all the required steps to restructure the party post its drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
“A meeting of the CWC took place today in which almost all the members put forward their views. A resolution was passed," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters after the meeting. While reading the resolution passed by the CWC, Surjewala informed that while responding to Gandhi's proposal of resigning, the committee members “unanimously and in one voice" rejected his resignation and requested him to continue leading the party.
The resolution adopted by the CWC also called for a 'thorough introspection and complete overhaul' of the party at the earliest, while committing to bring about a plan soon to this effect. It also stated that it had accepted the mandate of the general elections and resolved to play the role of a 'constructive Opposition' in the coming days.
“I do not agree with you that this was a disastrous performance, we were not able to rise to the expectations of the people. The party will now go into details... and after that we will come out with a detailed conclusion," former union minister A.K. Antony told reporters at the press conference when asked about the reasons discussed in the meeting for Congress' performance in the elections.
The Congress had formed a committee under Antony to review its performance even after the 2014 elections. Then also, Antony had said that the four-member review committee did not hold Gandhi responsible for the meeting.
“In a democracy people lose and win. But he gave leadership and his leadership was visible among the people if not on television...this was a defeat in numbers but not of principles," Congress' veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said during the press conference.
“He said that I am the chief of the party and accountability should rest with me, therefore I offer to resign. I have seen a lot of resignations in four decades but never before I have seen such unanimity in the working committee across all age groups (to reject the resignation)," Azad added.
According to a senior party leader who attended the meeting, the decision to ask Rahul Gandhi not to resign was near unanimous over largely two grounds — such a step could give more political ammunition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and no other leader from the party could take its reigns in a way that Rahul Gandhi does, who the members thought was well equipped to take on the challenges.
The CWC's meeting lasted for over three hours at the official headquarters at 24, Akbar Road. All the top leaders of the committee including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former party president Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers of most party ruled states, all the key general secretaries, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among other leaders, attended the meeting.
The Congress won just 52 seats in the 542-member lower house, marginally up from 44 seats it had secured in the 2014 general elections. Post the counting on Thursday, Gandhi had taken responsibility of the defeat and when asked by reporters if he would resign he had said the decision would be taken during the CWC meeting.
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