New Delhi: After a drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress faces a leadership crisis with party chief Rahul Gandhi firm on stepping down from the post. On Friday, a number of leaders from several state units tendered their resignation, citing "collective responsibility".
Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar, party general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh Deepak Babaria, Delhi Congress Working President Rajesh Lilothia and Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee working president Ponnam Prabhakar resigned from their posts.
A common letter of resignation was circulated on social media with the names and signatures of certain office-bearers, including those of Haryana Mahila Congress chief Sumitra Chauhan and All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries Rajesh Dharmani and Virender Rathore.
However, there was no official word from the party about the letter.
“Rahul Gandhi's firm decision to not withdraw his resignation as the Congress President morally does not permit me to continue. The defeat is our collective responsibility," said Chodankar.
The firm decision of @RahulGandhi Ji to not withdraw his resignation as @INCIndia President, morally does not permit me to continue. The defeat is our collective responsibility, hence I hereby tender my resignation forthwith as @INCGoa President.
— Girish Chodankar (@girishgoa) June 28, 2019
In his resignation letter addressed to Gandhi, Babaria said, "I believe that it is not only your responsibility but a collective responsibility of all the leaders who were in the front and who were responsible for leading the party in respective states. Therefore, I have decided to resign as general secretary, AICC, and in charge of MP."
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath earlier said he had offered to resign from the post of state Congress president after the party's debacle in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
The spate of resignations came a day after senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha stepped down from the post of chairperson of the All India Congress Committee’s legal human rights and RTI department.
In a series of tweets, Tankha had urged leaders to submit their resignations from party positions and give Rahul Gandhi "a free hand to choose his team".
The Delhi unit of the Congress on Friday also dissolved all its 280 block committees in the national capital. Former Chief Minister and Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit took the decision hours after meeting Gandhi to discuss the reasons for the rout on all seven seats in Delhi.
The party has been embroiled in a crisis since Gandhi expressed his desire to step down from his post although the Congress Working Committee (CWC), in a meeting on May 25, turned down his proposal. While several leaders have called upon Gandhi to continue as party chief, the Wayanad MP has remained firm.
Remarks by senior leader M Veerappa Moily have further added to the speculation. On Friday, Moily said there is not even one per cent possibility of Gandhi continuing as party president.
Gandhi on Thursday said he took the decision to ensure accountability for the party’s Lok Sabha poll debacle and there was no question of going back on it. “I have resigned after taking full responsibility and ensuring accountability for the party's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. I cannot ask others to resign too. It is up to them if they want to take responsibility," he had said.
But sources say Gandhi has privately expressed anger with many leaders who continue to stay on in their positions.
(With inputs from agencies)