Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said Rahul Gandhi would “always remain my leader”
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel yesterday called Rahul Gandhi’s decision to resign as party president “unfortunate” and said he would “always remain my leader”. Mr Patel, who was handpicked by former president Sonia Gandhi to act as a mentor for Mr Gandhi, also called on party leaders to accept “accountability”, a word also used by Mr Gandhi, for defeat in national elections this year.
“Rahulji”s resignation letter is unfortunate. We all are accountable for this defeat. He has, in a short span, already made tremendous contributions in strengthening the party and we all believe his endeavour should continue,” Mr Patel said in messages posted on social media late yesterday night.
The Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat followed that with a post thanking Mr Gandhi for providing “solid strength for the Congress”.
He is and will remain my leader, our leader & will continue to provide solid strength for the Congress.
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) July 3, 2019
Rahul Gandhi, 49, quit yesterday after taking responsibility for a second straight national election defeat. “Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president,” he said in a letter tweeted hours after his declaration.
The Congress only managed to win 52 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a gain of only eight seats from the all-time low off 44 in 2014 polls. By contrast, rivals BJP won 303 seats this year, up from 282 in 2014.
“It is a habit in India that the powerful cling to power, no one sacrifices power. But we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle,” Mr Gandhi wrote, adding that it was unfair to call out others for poor performance and not hold himself responsible.
A new Congress president will be chosen “within a week”, party sources told NDTV. The names of Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mallikarjun Kharge have emerged as possible candidates.
Mr Gandhi’s resignation means a non-Gandhi will take charge of the Congress for only the third time in its 133-year history, something over which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly targeted the party.
During campaigning for the national election, the Prime Minister had accused the Congress of practicing dynastic politics, declaring “Congress does not believe in internal democracy”. He alleged that the party practiced a “sense of entitlement” reflected in the fact that “after 1947, every Congress government has seen multiple defence scams”.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh and Ashok Gehlot expressed their support for Rahul Gandhi.
“We respect your sentiments Rahul-ji whether you are President or not you are my Leader and I am with you in your Ideological fight against the RSS/BJP,” Mr Singh wrote on Twitter.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took to Twitter to say the party is “very hopeful” that Mr Gandhi would return “to lead the party forward, to a new and robust future.”
Rahul Gandhi yesterday also removed the designation “President, Indian National Congress” from his Twitter profile. His account now describes him as a parliamentarian and “Member of the Indian National Congress”.
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