New Delhi, The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday rejected party President Rahul Gandhi’s offer to quit from his post in the wake of the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, but Gandhi insisted that his resignation was accepted and that he didn’t withdraw his offer to step down.
The CWC called for a thorough introspection, complete overhaul and detailed restructuring at every level of the party and promised to put in place a plan of action at the earliest.
Congress sources said that Gandhi has been insisting on stepping down. A resolution adopted by the CWC said that Gandhi, in his address to the party’s highest decision making body, offered his resignation as party chief but it was rejected unanimously.
“The CWC unanimously and with one voice rejected the same and requested the Congress President for his leadership and guidance in these challenging times. The CWC unanimously called upon the Congress President to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of India’s youth, the farmers, the SC/ST/OBCs, the minorities, the poor and the deprived sections,” the resolution said.
According to party sources, senior party leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram got emotional after Rahul Gandhi offered his resignation. As per a source, Chidambaram said that 12 crore people have voted for the party, and that south India believed in Gandhi. “How can you say you don’t want to remain the President,” Chidambaram asked during the meeting.
The sources also said that Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi told the Congress President that it was not the right time to resign. She also asked Gandhi to come up with a proposal to strengthen the party.
The meeting was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, senior party leaders Malliarjuna Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Randeep Singh Surjewala, R.P.N. Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Deb and Chief Ministers of Congress ruled states including Ashok Gehlot, Captain Amarinder Singh and Bhupesh Baghel.
Party source also pointed out that heads would soon roll with the CWC authorising the Congress President to restructure the party. Many state unit chiefs and General Secretaries at the national and state level could face the heat as the party will fix responsibility for its poor performance.
The meeting lasted for over three-and-a-half hours after which the Congress President and his sister Priyanka left the party office without speaking to the media.
The CWC resolution said that the working committee accepted the Lok Sabha election verdict and fully recognised the challenges, the failures and the shortcomings that resulted in the mandate.
“The CWC recommends a thorough introspection and has requested the Congress President for a complete overhaul and a detailed restructuring at every level of the party. A plan to this effect shall come into force at the earliest,” it said.
Expressing its gratitude to the 12.13 crore voters who stood behind the Congress, the resolution said the party has lost the elections but “our indomitable courage, our fighting spirit and commitment to our ideology remain stronger than ever”.
“We shall continue the fight against the forces which thrive on hatred and division,” it said.
Noting that India was facing a number of challenges, the resolution said the country was faced with the issue of surging oil prices post the sanctions against Iran.
“The banking sector is in dire straits with uncontrolled and unchecked NPAs soaring to nearly Rs 12 lakh crore over the last five years, threatening the very stability of banking operations. Serious questions are being raised on the financial viability of NBFCs (Non Banking Financial Companies), wherein hard earned savings of the people are invested,” the resolution said.
It said that the “downturn of economy”, coupled with “lack of private investment and a steep fall in consumption patterns, point towards grave economic slowdown”.
“The looming job crisis has seen no solution, jeopardising the future of the youth. The agrarian crisis continues unabated with large swathes of the country reeling under severe drought, particularly Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka,” it said.
“Social strife and tensions affect large portions of our populace. The responsibility and accountability to overcome these challenges is of the next government,” it said.
The CWC resolution further said that the Congress would continue to play a constructive role to overcome these serious challenges, as it hoped that the new government will address these issues as its top priority.
The working committee also thanked all its allies who joined hands with the Congress “to fight the ideological battle”.
The sources further said that most of the Congress leaders did not blame the Electronic Voting Machines for the party’s loss in the elections, and accepted that people voted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this elections.
The sources said that during the CWC, issues like how the media was controlled by the Modi government was also discussed. The leaders in the meeting also discussed the functioning of the Election Commission.
As per the sources, poor communication strategy was blamed for the failure of the Congress’ ambitious NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) scheme which was announced in its manifesto.
“We recognise the failures and shortcoming that resulted into an adverse mandate. The party will go into the details of all the issues before reaching a conclusion,” senior party leader A.K. Antony said.