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Just as Sonia Did in 1998, Rahul Gandhi Hopes to Teach Congress a Lesson With His Resignation

Sources say Sonia Gandhi is opposed to Rahul Gandhi stepping down since it would be difficult for him to make a comeback given that the party is going through its worst crisis at the moment.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:May 28, 2019, 10:34 AM IST
Just as Sonia Did in 1998, Rahul Gandhi Hopes to Teach Congress a Lesson With His Resignation
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi leave after paying tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru on his 55th death anniversary, at his memorial Shanti Van in New Delhi, on May 27, 2019. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress is likely to hold a second CWC meeting this week during which Rahul Gandhi is expected to reiterate his decision to resign as party chief in the wake of the election drubbing.

Rahul had offered to resign from the top post in the first post-verdict Congress Working Committee meeting on May 25, but the same was rejected by his mother Sonia Gandhi while other senior Congress leaders made emotional appeals for him to stay on.

In an oblique reference to Rahul’s decision, Sonia had said in a letter to Rae Bareli residents after the poll outcome that she won’t shy away from fighting for her principles. Sources told News18 that Sonia is opposed to Rahul stepping down since it would be difficult for him to make a comeback given that the party is going through its worst crisis at the moment.

But leaders close to Rahul say resignation doesn’t mean shedding responsibility, adding that the Congress chief is planning to undertake padyatras and organise workers’ meetings.

Rahul Gandhi’s decision to step down also poses another dilemma for the party: who next? The problem has been complicated by a redux of the situation that prevailed after Rajiv Gandhi assassination wherein a group of veteran leaders joined forces to keep the Nehru-Gandhis away from the president’s post.

Sources say that after Saturday’s CWC meeting, a few seniors teamed up when they got wind of Rahul’s offer to resign. They first ensured a press statement was issued to deny that Rahul had pulled up senior Congressmen for putting their sons before the party. The other CWC members were told not to speak to the media, sources added. Few seniors are reportedly worried that they can’t go about business as usual if Rahul Gandhi indeed resigns.

The Gandhis, on the other hand, are hurt that Team Rahul was waging a lone battle from the word go, with some leaders not even bothering to push flagship poll promises like NYAY, the minimum income guarantee scheme. Sources said that Rahul Gandhi’s team had even complained that leaders didn’t tweet or push the campaign on social media. Complaints were also made that leaders were running parallel campaigns and that Rahul’s fiery push in the Rafale case wasn’t replicated by others. It was also alleged that some seniors were shying away from the issue to not burn bridges with Anil Ambani.

Upset with the same, even Priyanka Gandhi is known to have pointed out the lack of coordination and campaign zest which ultimately eroded her brother’s efforts.

Senior leaders, however, have a complaint of their own – that there was too much meddling by Team Rahul, with some having a say in ticket distribution as well.

With this infighting and distrust ultimately leading to a humiliating defeat, sources in Rahul’s camp say he now wants to teach the party a lesson with his resignation. It is reportedly being hoped that if the Congress disintegrates post-Rahul, the seniors may be forced to acknowledge the importance of having a Gandhi at the helm; just as Sonia ascended to power after pushing out Sitaram Kesari in 1998.

These are different times however. Opponents are smarter and the Congress is in the middle of its biggest crisis ever. Will the past work in the present?

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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