Will fight BJP 10 times harder, says Rahul after stepping down
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that he will carry out his “ideological fight” against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “ten times more intensely” than he had in the last five years, speaking outside a court in Mumbai a day after making public his resignation from the party chief’s post over the Lok Sabha election defeat.
Gandhi and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury were at the court in connection with a defamation case filed by an RSS worker against them for linking the RSS with the murders of rationalists and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
“I am with the poor, farmers and labourers. This fight [against BJP and RSS] will continue… It’s a fight of ideology. I am being attacked and enjoying it,” he said amid crowds that had previously been raising slogans urging him to take back his resignation.
Gandhi and Yechury pleaded not guilty to the defamation allegation, and the court will now proceed with a trial.
Gandhi’s quitting has stirred unease within his party, with a string of high-profile resignations following his announcement. His sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said she respected his decision. “Few have the courage that you do @rahulgandhi. Deepest respect for your decision,” she wrote in a tweet.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision making body, is expected to meet next week to identify the next step in terms of the organisation.
In addition to Priyanka Gandhi, several party leaders on Thursday expressed support for Rahul Gandhi’s decision, including Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora, former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken and ex-Union minister M Veerappa Moily.
“Shri Rahul Gandhi never hesitated to lead from the front. @INCIndia appreciates & values his idealism & courage. We respect his decision to resign from the post of Congress President. In order to revive, Congress must now expedite the process of selecting an able successor,” Deora said on Twitter.
The comment came after other senior leaders asked Gandhi to stay. Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot, Harish Rawat, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada, Asha Kumari and Manish Tewari have in recent days urged a rethink.
Rawat, the former chief minister of Uttarakhand, on Thursday announced that he had resigned as the Congress general secretary in-charge of Assam following the party’s poor show in the Lok Sabha polls.
“We the office bearers of the Congress are responsible for the party’s defeat and organisational failure. I am responsible for the below-expected result of the party in Assam as in-charge of the state. I accept my shortcoming and resign as general secretary in-charge of state,” he said on Twitter.
Rawat said for people like him, posts were not important, but “a leader like Rahul Gandhi, who inspired the workers, should continue to lead the party”.