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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

‘Rahul Gandhi or no one’: Leaders tell CWC panels on next Congress president

Making a strong pitch for Rahul’s leadership, the leaders from Punjab were reported to be saying that “it wasn’t Rahul’s fault if he was born in a family that had sacrificed so much,” Congress leader privy to the developments said.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2019 20:23 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at AICC headquarter, in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, August 10, 2019.
Senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at AICC headquarter, in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, August 10, 2019. (Vipin Kumar/HT FILE PHOTO)
         

Congress party had moved one step closer to choosing its next president, as the consultations with five different zonal groups constituting leaders from different states ended. Rahul Gandhi’s name as the most suited candidate to lead the party kept cropping up during these discussions moderated by members of Congress Working Committee.

Sources in the know of deliberations at Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road in Delhi said that the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Sunil Jakhar and former Gurdaspur MP Pratap Singh Bajwa along with other leaders from Punjab insisted that Rahul Gandhi be convinced to retract his resignation, many people they said “had left” and “many more would leave” if Rahul didn’t rescind his decision to quit as party president.

Making a strong pitch for Rahul’s leadership, the leaders from Punjab reportedly said that “it wasn’t Rahul’s fault if he was born in a family that had sacrificed so much,” Congress leader privy to the developments quoted above said.

Stressing that Rahul Gandhi’s leadership was important for the party to remain united, Jakhar and Bajwa reportedly said that they will not work under anyone except Rahul Gandhi.

Also read | Congress fixes its line on Article 370, calls party meeting to get it across

They also rejected the names “that had emerged” while making an exception for Mallikarjun Kharge, the veteran leader from Karnataka, who they said was “acceptable”. The two Congress leaders present there that HT spoke to, also added that Priyanka Gandhi was present when the leaders from Punjab spoke. They appealed to Priyanka to convince Rahul to come back and said together they would be ‘RPG’ against BJP.

Another Congress leader told HT that the discussion in the Southern group was not very different where leaders demanded Rahul Gandhi be requested to take charge of the party despite being told by senior leader Anand sharma that Rahul had rejected a similar request made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the CWC meeting held earlier in the day.

Rajya Sabha MP BK Hariprasad in the Southern group reportedly said that a “leader with experience of 10-15 years” could be considered as his replacement if Rahul remained adamant. Leaders in the southern group said “experience mattered,” but urged the young and the old in the party to not fight.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said earlier that armed with the feedback from the five groups, CWC will meet again at 8:30 pm on Sunday to pick party’s next president.

Shortly after the CWC meeting held in the first half of the day, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi left saying they won’t be part of the consultation process.

“Consultation (to decide next party chief) is going on and naturally me and Rahul ji cannot be a part of it,” Sonia Gandhi said.

At the CWC meet, Rahul Gandhi also rejected yet another request to review his decision to step down as Congress president. He had quit in May after the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.