Will force Rahul to become Congress chief, says Kharge day after Ghulam Nabi Azad's resignation

Source: PTI | Published on 27th August 2022, 12:22 PM | State News | National News |

Bengaluru: Rahul Gandhi would be pursued to return as Congress President as there is none in the party other than him who has a pan-India appeal, veteran leader M Mallikarjun Kharge has said.

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said anyone aspiring to lead the party should be known throughout the country and enjoy support from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and West Bengal to Gujarat.

"He should be well-recognised, accepted man to the entire Congress party", Kharge told PTI here on Friday.

"So, no body is there (in the party with such a stature)."

He recalled that all senior leaders had "forced" Sonia Gandhi to join and work for the party, and had requested Rahul Gandhi to "come and fight".

"You tell me the alternative. Who is there? (in the party other than Rahul Gandhi)", Kharge asked.

On reports that Rahul Gandhi is unwilling to take up the mantle, Kharge said he will be requested and asked to take charge "for the sake of the party, for the sake of the country, for fighting the RSS-BJP and to keep the country united".

Kharge also referred to the party's upcoming "Bharat Jodo Yatra", and said Rahul Gandhi is needed for 'Jodo Bharat".

"We will ask him, we will force him and request him (to return as Congress President). We stand behind him. We will try to pursue him", the former Union Minister said.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision-making body, will hold a virtual meeting on Sunday to approve the schedule of dates for the election of the Congress president.

Sonia Gandhi will preside over the CWC meeting.

Several leaders have been publicly exhorting Rahul Gandhi to become party chief again.

However, uncertainty and suspense continue on the issue.

Several party insiders say Rahul Gandhi is persisting with his stance that he will not be AICC president.

He resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in Parliamentary elections in 2019.

Sonia Gandhi, who took over the reins of the party again as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after an open revolt by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.

Ghulam Nabi Azad in his five-page resignation letter on Friday delivered the maximum sting by describing Rahul as "immature" and "childish" and accusing the leadership of "foisting a non-serious individual" at the helm of the party.

Rahul's actions were criticised by leaders such as Amarinder Singh, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Hardik Patel as well when they quit the party.

In his letter addressed to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Azad mentioned Rahul Gandhi seven times, accusing him of running the party through a "new coterie of inexperienced sycophants".

Azad, 73, who has been associated with the Congress for nearly five decades, also attacked party chief Sonia Gandhi for applying the "remote control model that demolished the institutional integrity of the UPA government" to the party.

He also reminded Gandhi that she was just a "nominal figurehead" and all the important decisions were being taken by Rahul or "rather worse his security guards and PAs".

Azad also slammed Rahul Gandhi's conduct within the party and singled out his action of tearing up a government ordinance in "full glare" of the media for the loss of the Congress party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"One of the most glaring examples of this immaturity was the tearing up of a government ordinance in the full glare of the media by Shri Rahul Gandhi," he said.

"The said ordinance was incubated in the Congress Core Group and subsequently unanimously approved by the Union Cabinet presided over by the Prime Minister of India and duly approved even by the President of India.

"This 'childish' behaviour completely subverted the authority of the Prime Minister and Government of India," said Azad, who served as Health Minister in the UPA-II government.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma drew similarities between Azad's letter and the one he had written while quitting the Congress in 2015.

The problem in the Congress is that everybody knows Rahul Gandhi is "immature, whimsical and unpredictable" but his mother is still trying to promote him, Sarma said in Guwahati.

Sarma, a confidant of the then Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, quit the Congress in 2015 to join the BJP.

He was largely credited with the BJP's rapid strides in the northeastern states and was made chief minister of Assam after the party was re-elected to power last year.

He had said that Rahul Gandhi appeared keen on feeding biscuits to his pet dog when he had met him to discuss issues related to Assam.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too had said in a letter to Sonia Gandhi that he was "deeply hurt by your conduct and that of your children" and slammed the Gandhis for a "conspiracy" to oust him from the state government.

The Gandhis had promoted Navjyot Singh Sidhu, who had joined the Congress after quitting the BJP, over Amarinder Singh, betting on the cricketer-turned-politician's popularity to help the party sail through in the assembly elections five months later.

Singh vented his anguish in his resignation letter to Gandhi and blamed her for failing to rein in Sidhu, whom he described as an "acolyte of the Pakistani deep state".

"Unfortunately rather than being reined in, he was patronised by Rahul and Priyanka while you chose to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of this gentleman who was aided and abetted by the General Secretary In-charge Harish Rawat, perhaps the most dubious individual I had the occasion to make acquaintance off," Singh said in his letter in November last year.

Gujarat leader Hardik Patel, who was the working president of the state Congress, also claimed that the Congress senior leadership lacked seriousness about all issues.

"Whenever our country faced challenges and when the Congress needed leadership, Congress leaders were enjoying abroad," Patel said in his resignation letter in May in an apparent dig at Rahul Gandhi's frequent foreign trips.

Patel had said that big leaders of Congress in Gujarat were far away from issues of the state but were more focussed on ensuring that chicken sandwiches for leaders who have come from Delhi were delivered on time.

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