NEW DELHI :
A day after Rahul Gandhi made his resignation as Congress president public and reasserted that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) should look for his successor, senior leaders said the party’s apex decision-making body could likely meet next week to decide the future course of action.
The CWC takes a final call on the resignation of the party president, but senior members of the apex body feel there “is no going back" and that the general sense is that it would accept Gandhi’s resignation.
Gandhi’s decision to not continue in the top post and a strongly-worded four-page open letter has thrown the party into a crisis. The top leadership should resolve the situation soon, as elections in key states are lined up for later this year, feel party leaders.
“We have lost nearly six weeks since he offered to resign. Now things are pretty clear and irrespective of some leaders reaching out to him to continue, we think there is no going back from here. The CWC accepting his resignation will be a mere formality now," said a senior general secretary of the party who is also a member of the CWC, requesting anonymity.
There could be more clarity on the date of the CWC meeting once K.C. Venugopal, the general secretary incharge of organization, returns to Delhi from Kerala, according to another party leader, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity. Both Gandhi and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi are likely to travel abroad this weekend, he said.
“Both will happen together, accepting the resignation and appointing an interim chief. While there is a lack of clarity right now, someone’s name will come up soon," said another general secretary who is also part of the CWC, requesting anonymity. A few senior leaders are being considered for the interim arrangement, he said.
Gandhi’s resignation prompted many party leaders to step down from their posts over the last fortnight. However, the decision of senior general secretary Harish Rawat to resign is yet another setback for the Congress, as the former Uttarakhand chief minister is incharge of Assam and has been a key Gandhi family loyalist.
On Thursday, Gandhi was in a Mumbai court pleading not guilty to charges in a defamation case filed by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader. Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, is also party to the case and is facing similar charges.
“I am standing with the poor, the farmers and workers. I am being attacked and I am enjoying it," he said outside the court in Mumbai.
When told that party workers feel he should not have resigned, Gandhi said: “ Whatever I had to say, I have said yesterday in my note." He added that the “fight" will be stronger from now on.
On Thursday, Congress general secretary incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, tweeted that “few have the courage" to do what Gandhi did by resigning.
Gandhi had offered to resign at a CWC meeting on 25 May, soon after the election results were announced. The CWC did not accept his resignation. On Wednesday, Gandhi wrote a note on social media in which he clarified that he was not going to back down on his decision, and said the CWC should take steps to find his successor soon.