- Congress parliamentarians to elect chairperson at key meeting today
- Meeting a week after Rahul Gandhi said he would resign from top post
- Congress had managed to win just 52 seats in the Lok Sabha elections
Sonia Gandhi is likely to be elected chairperson when newly-elected Congress parliamentarians meet for the first time on Saturday. A section wants her son, Rahul Gandhi, to take over as the party's leader in the Lok Sabha -- a position occupied earlier by Mallikarjun Kharge. This will be Rahul Gandhi's first meeting with party leaders exactly a week after he told the Congress's top decision-making body that he would not continue as chief after its national election disaster.
Amid efforts to get him to change his mind, the Congress has debated the possibility of Rahul Gandhi leading the party in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress, with a 52-seat tally in the 543-member Lok Sabha, is three members short of the total that would qualify it for the post of Leader of Opposition. Its poll campaign flopped miserably as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP won an even bigger majority than 2014.
Rahul Gandhi has remained firm on his decision to quit as Congress president and has refused to meet party leaders who have flocked to his home in Delhi to plead with him. Several state Congress units have passed "resolutions" urging their 48-year-old chief to drop the idea of quitting.
The only leaders he did meet on Monday were Ahmed Patel - Sonia Gandhi's aide -- and KC Venugopal. Two days later, he was seen in a photo circulated on Twitter driving an SUV with his pet dog Pidi in the backseat. Yesterday, he attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oath ceremony along with his mother.
At the post-mortem session of the Congress Working Committee last Saturday, Rahul Gandhi offered his unfiltered opinion of veteran leaders who, he reportedly said, had placed their sons above party interests, thus costing the Congress heavily in the polls.
On Thursday, he told ally HD Kumaraswamy, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, that he would not go back on his decision to quit and that he would stick around to help the person who took over as his replacement.
The Congress has last faced such a crisis back in 1999, when Sonia Gandhi, just months after being named party president, quit over three senior leaders, Sharad Pawar, PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar objecting to her leadership on account of her foreign origin.
After protests by Congress workers across the country, Sonia Gandhi took back her resignation and the party expelled the three dissidents.
While insisting that his resignation be accepted, Rahul Gandhi continues to write letters as "Congress president" and meet alliance leaders.