- Rahul Gandhi said Congress "will fight the BJP every day"
- "You are fighting for every single Indian," says Mr Gandhi
- Parliamentary party meet was attended by all 52 Congress lawmakers
The question whether Rahul Gandhi will be the Congress's leader in parliament remained unanswered on Saturday as the meeting of the party's lawmakers ended soon after choosing Sonia Gandhi as its chairperson. Acceptance of the post by Rahul Gandhi will be seen an indication of a possible rethink on his decision to quit the top post of the party, over which there has been an impasse since last week.
Mr Gandhi has refused to reverse his decision despite repeated appeals from the Congress and has refused to meet the leaders who flocked to his home to press the issue.
In his address to party's lawmakers yesterday, Rahul Gandhi said the party still has 52 lawmakers in parliament and "will fight the BJP every day".
"When we had 45 members last time, I felt it is going to be really a tough job. I felt that the BJP has 282, we are 45... within a couple of weeks I realised that 45 Congress Members are enough to take on 282 BJP members," he said.
The Congress winners, he said said, must "understand who you are".
"You are probably the first people in this country's independent history, who have fought an election not against a political party but against every single institution in this country. There is not one institution that did not fight you and tried to stop you from coming into the Lok Sabha and you fought every single one of those institutions and you forced your way into the Lok Sabha. And that is something you should be extremely proud of," he said.
The Congress Party may have just 52 Lok Sabha members, but we will work together like a pride of brave hearted lions to protect our Constitution & Institutions & to fearlessly do our duty as the leading Opposition party. The BJP will have no walkover in Parliament. pic.twitter.com/Rx8aUZcqn3— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 1, 2019
The position of the Leader of the Congress was occupied by party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge in the last Lok Sabha. Mr Kharge, however, has lost the election this time, beaten by the BJP candidate from Karnataka's Gulbarga.
In what was seen as a reference to the missing members, Mr Gandhi said, "I would be happy if the old faces were here and they are ideologically with us. We will try and rejuvenate ourselves and we can do it".
Mr Gandhi's close aide, Jyotiraditya Scindia, has also lost the election from his family turf Guna. Several of the party's senior leaders have also lost as the Congress got decimated by the BJP. The party won only 52 seats - marginally better than the 44 it had in 2014 which the party's worst ever defeat.
Mr Gandhi had announced his decision to resign soon after, during the meeting of the party's working committee last Saturday.
Sonia Gandhi made it clear that the party's top post is uppermost in her mind.
In her address today, she thanked her son for "toiling night and day and taking on the Modi government... raising concerns about all sections of society and helped the party win in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan".
"As we speak, emotional messages are coming for his continuation (as the party chief). The Congress Working Committee met to deliberate the issue and must take steps," she added.
The parliamentary party meeting today was attended by all 52 lawmakers of the Congress from the Lok Sabha as well as its members from the Rajya Sabha.