Congress CMs try to convince Rahul Gandhi to stay as chief, but he says mind unchanged
Chief ministers of five Congress-ruled states on Monday met Rahul Gandhi to persuade him to continue as the party chief. But Gandhi once again made it clear that he stands by his decision to step down in view of the party’s bad performance in the April-May general elections, according to a leader present at the meeting.
A meeting of the party’s highest executive body, the Congress Working Committee, is expected this week to decide on the future course of action. Gandhi asked the chief ministers, Captain Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayansamy (Puducherry), to focus on their states. He asked them to ensure welfare of the people through swift and effective implementation of public schemes, the leader said.
Another party leader clarified that the chief ministers had sought an appointment with Gandhi after the election results were declared. “Since Gandhi was preoccupied with other things, he could not fix a schedule for this meeting. He decided to hold it now.” A close aide to Gandhi said even as the Congress president decided to hold such an important meeting, it may not be a signal that he is ready to reconsider his decision to leave his post.
Gehlot said they conveyed to Gandhi the feelings of the party workers and leaders. “We hope he takes note of our views and does the right thing.”
Gehlot criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and accused it of misleading the country in the name of patriotism. “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi did politics hiding behind the Army, misled people in the name of religion. He did not talk about development, economy, and employment.”
The chief ministers discussed the Congress’s poor performances in the five states and told Gandhi that the BJP’s key nationalism push “misled” the voters. The narrative woven around issues of patriotism, nationalism and the army took precedence over development issues, the leaders cited above quoted the leaders as saying at the meeting.
The CMs did not offer their resignations, but conveyed to Gandhi that they are willing to leave their posts if the need arises, the leaders said. They asked him to intervene in the party’s ongoing crisis.
News agency IANS quoted Gandhi as saying in Parliament: “I have made my decision clear. You all know it.” Gandhi’s announcement of resignation on May 25 has prompted several leaders to follow suit. The Congress’s in charges of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Deepak Babaria and PL Punia, are among those who have put in their papers. A clamour for Gandhi’s continuance overshadowed other agenda at party lawmakers’ first strategy meet last week. But he told lawmakers that he had decided even before the LS polls that if the party fares badly, he will take responsibility and quit.