- Priyanka Gandhi says she understands reason behind her brother's move.
- She, however, wants the Congress leadership to be given some time.
- Rahul also said Congress chief doesn't necessarily need to be a Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi's decision to quit as Congress president may have been unanimously rejected by senior party leaders, but he has found support in his sister Priyanka. She, however, wants him to give the party leadership some time to come up with an alternative course of action.
In a meeting of the Congress Working Committee held on Saturday, the 48-year-old politician said he would like to step down from the party's top post in view of its dismal performance in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections. "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," Rahul Gandhi was quoted as saying.
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. Sources also quoted Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi as saying that they were unable to change the Congress president's mind on what was his "individual decision".
During the four-hour-long meeting, the Congress leaders reportedly asked Rahul Gandhi who else would be worthy of taking up the party president's mantle. When Priyanka Gandhi's name came up, he said: "Don't drag my sister into it. It's not necessary that the president should be from the Gandhi family."
Rahul Gandhi, who regards Priyanka as his "best friend", was reportedly instrumental in convincing her to formally join the party as a general secretary this January. "My sister has always been my friend and we understand each other very well. If an argument happens to arise between us, sometimes she backs off and sometimes I do," he had earlier told PTI, adding that the assassinations of their father Rajiv Gandhi and grandmother Indira Gandhi had ended up bringing them closer.
The Congress held its post-mortem meet two days after election results showed it winning just 52 seats as opposed to the Narendra Modi-led BJP's 303 in the Lok Sabha elections. Rahul Gandhi had said that he is "100%" responsible for his party's poor performance.
Rahul Gandhi's fall from political grace was exemplified by his defeat in Amethi, a constituency held by his family for the better part of four decades. Although the BJP's Smriti Irani had lost to him in 2014, she came back to claim a decisive victory in this election. It is believed that Rahul Gandhi's "Chowkidar Chor Hai" campaign, based on the premise that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was involved in discrepancies concerning the Rafale fighter jet deal, had failed to resonate with voters. Many have also accused him of failing to form political alliances that could have turned the tide against the BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
Despite Rahul Gandhi's loss in Amethi, he will continue to be a member of the Lok Sabha owing to his victory from Wayanad in Kerala. The BJP has often accused the Congress of being a party of dynasts, given how its top post has often gone to members of the Gandhi family.