New Delhi: The chorus for making Rahul Gandhi Congress president again grew louder on Sunday as several leaders and workers voiced support for him to take on the mantle of party chief. Ahead of a crucial Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said no one was taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Gandhi does and was fighting resolutely.
The Congress Working Committee met to discuss the outcome of the assembly elections in five states as the opposition party reels from the latest electoral debacle. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, K C Venugopal, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and P Chidambaram were among those attending the meeting.
The meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body was likely to witness some fireworks as the G-23 dissident leaders, who questioned the leadership and pressed for organisation overhaul, indicated that the issue of internal polls could be raised again. Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma were among the G-23 leaders who participated in the meet.
The Congress lost Punjab to the AAP, could not wrest Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur from the BJP and the party’s tally in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh fell to its lowest. While Sonia Gandhi has not been actively campaigning for some time, Rahul Gandhi, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, had been the star campaigner for the Congress in the polls, with the brother-sister duo also playing a major role in key decisions of the party.
Despite a high-pitched campaign led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress could manage to win only two of the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh with the vote share plummeting to a meagre 2.33 percent and most of its candidates losing security deposits.
Rahul Gandhi had resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in general elections in 2019. Sonia Gandhi, who took over the reins of the party again as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after strong criticism by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.
Earlier in the day, top Congress leaders discussed the party’s strategy for the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament and decided to work in coordination with other like-minded parties to raise issues of public importance. The meeting of the Congress Parliamentary strategy group was held at the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi.