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Weeks after Congress president Rahul Gandhi offered to step down from the post after his party’s crushing loss in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Randeep Surjewala, spokesperson, said Mr Gandhi would continue leading the party.
“Rahul ji was, is and will remain the Congress president. We have no doubt about it,” Mr Surjewala was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
He made the remark after attending a meeting of Congress leaders called to discuss the upcoming assembly elections. Senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal, Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma were present in the meeting.
In a meeting of the Congress Working Committee held last month, Mr Gandhi, 48, said he would like to step down from the party’s top post. “We have to continue our fight. I am and will remain a disciplined soldier of the Congress and continue to fight fearlessly. But I do not want to remain the party president,” he told the leaders.
Although the 52-member committee — including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — asked Rahul Gandhi to reconsider taking such a drastic move, he has reportedly refused to budge.
The Congress Working Committee had unanimously rejected Mr Gandhi’s offer to step down. It passed a resolution authorising him to revamp the party.
The Congress, which had won only 44 seats in 2014 general elections, slumped again to another dismal tally of 52. The BJP bettered its numbers, crossing the 300 mark.
Hockey Olympian and former union minister Aslam Sher Khan has offered to replace Rahul Gandhi as the Congress president for a period of two years.
“I wrote the letter when Rahul Gandhi offered to leave the post of Congress President and asked someone from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to take over his role. In the letter, I mentioned that if Rahul (Gandhi) wanted to continue at the post he very well could, but if not, then I would like to assume the responsibility for two years,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
With inputs from agencies