Rahul Gandhi formally resigns, makes his letter public

Holds himself responsible for the Congress’s Lok Sabha poll debacle; senior Congress leaders go into a huddle.

July 03, 2019 03:36 pm | Updated July 04, 2019 12:45 am IST

Rahul Gandhi. File

Rahul Gandhi. File

Ending speculation about his continuance in office as Congress president, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday formally resigned, holding himself responsible for the party’s Lok Sabha poll debacle and maintained that accountability would be critical for the party’s future growth.

Mr. Gandhi’s decision to make his resignation public sent senior Congress leaders into a huddle.

Sources told The Hindu  that senior leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vohra, A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma and Mukul Wasnik, among others, are believed to have met informally to decide the next course of action, including options available in the party constitution to deal with such a situation.

Asks CWC to constitute group

In a four-page open letter, Mr. Gandhi said he had empowered the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to constitute a group of people that could find his successor and distanced himself from the process of selecting the next chief.

Amidst reports that Mr. Gandhi and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, could be travelling out of the country shortly, the sources said the CWC could meet as early as July 10 to prepare a road ahead.

One of the options that’s being discussed is once again pass a resolution asking Mr Gandhi to continue.

Party veterans claimed that he continues be the president until the CWC formally accepts his resignation and appoints an interim president.

If the 49-year-old Congress chief does not relent, then the longest serving general secretary could be asked to take interim charge and that could be Mr. Azad as he became a general secretary of the CWC as far back as 1986. 

Defends party’s “dignified campaign against PM, RSS”

Mr. Gandhi -- who has been firm on his decision to quit as party chief since May 25, two days after the results in which his party won 52 seats – defended the party’s “strong and dignified campaign against the Prime Minister and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the institutions they have captured with.”

“As President of the Congress Party, I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election. Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress President,” said Mr. Gandhi in his letter that sounded both emotional and combative.

“Rebuilding the party requires hard decisions and numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019. It would be unjust to hold others accountable but ignore my own responsibility as President of the party," he said in the letter shared on his Twitter account.

The most visible face of the Congress’s 2019 campaign, Mr. Gandhi said he fought the ideals that India was built on. “I fought because I love India... At times I stood completely alone and am extremely proud of it,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi alleged in his letter that the RSS’ goal of ‘capturing the country's institutional structure, is now complete’ and claimed that future elections could become ‘mere rituals’.

He said the Congress must reclaim the institutions but for that to happen, the party must transform.

“To achieve this important task, the Congress Party must radically transform itself. Today the BJP is systematically crushing the voice of the Indian people. It is the duty of the Congress Party to defend these voices. India has never and will never be one voice. It is and always will be a symphony of voices. That is the true essence of Bharat Mata,” he said.

Mr Gandhi, who lost his Amethi seat and now represents Wayanad in Kerala, claimed he did not fight a political party in the 2019 election but the entire machinery of the Indian state.

“A free and fair election requires the neutrality of a country’s institutions; an election cannot be fair without arbiters – a free press, an independent judiciary, and a transparent election commission that is objective and neutral. Nor can an election be free if one party has a complete monopoly on financial resources,” he said. 

“We didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshalled against the opposition. It is now crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India,” he stated. 

“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. I was born a Congressman, this party has always been with me and is my lifeblood and forever that way it shall remain,” he said and ended by thanking all.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Gandhi told reporters that the CWC should immediately meet to decide on his successor.

“The party should decide quickly next president without any further delay. I am nowhere in the process. I have submitted my resignation and I am no longer the president,” he told reporters as he was walking out of the Lok Sabha along with his mother.

Click here to read the full text of Rahul Gandhi's open letter on 2019 general election and resignation as Congress president.

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