Reeling under the impact of poll debacle, the Congress is in deep trouble, with party chief Rahul Gandhi insisting on quitting the post amid a series of resignations, setting the stage for a likely meeting of its highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), in the next four days.
Amid indications that the party was considering a presidium system for taking it forward, the CWC is likely to discuss the leadership issue, sources said on Monday.
It is learnt that Rahul Gandhi has conveyed that he has not changed his mind to quit.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi are also learnt to have come to terms with his view that there should be a change of guard, though they have been of the view that the blame for defeat cannot be put on one person.
During the day, party treasurer Ahmed Patel and general secretary K. C. Venugopal met Rahul and tried to persuade him not to press for his exit from the post.
However, Patel later said that he had gone to meet Rahul for routine administrative work.
Sources said the CWC, the party’s top decision-making body, is also likely to look at the structural reforms needed by the party.
There is also a view in the Congress that Gandhi is sending a clear message to the old guard by holding out because there should be full freedom in decision-making.
Sources said Rahul Gandhi did not give appointment to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in an apparent snub to him. The Congress President was not keen on Gehlot seeking ticket for his son. Gandhi is also learnt to have declined other appointments including of newly-eleced MPs who wanted to see him.
The Congress is also believed to be considering a presidium system, as resignations pile up amid a deepening crisis.
Gandhi had offered to resign taking moral responsibility for the party’s defeat but the Congress Working Committee at its meeting on Saturday unanimously rejected the offer.
Meanwhile, three more state party chiefs have tendered their resignations, taking the total number to six.
Congress party chiefs of Jharkhand, Assam and Punjab have also resigned in addition to those from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Karanataka Pradesh Campaign Committee chairman H. K. Patil has also resigned.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jhakar, who was the sitting MP from Gurdaspur, sent his resignation to Congress President Rahul Gandhi taking moral responsibility for losing to actor Sunny Deol from the seat. The Congress has generally done well in Punjab winning eight of 13 seats.
Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar has also tendered his resignation. The party won only one seat in the state where it had an alliance with the JMM, RJD and other parties.
While the party won Singhbhum seat, it lost Khunti by only 1,445 votes and Lohardaga by 10,363 votes.
The party’s Assam unit chief Ripun Bora also wrote to Gandhi taking moral responsibility for the party not being able to increase its tally from its previous tally of three seats. He has said in his letter that Gandhi may choose to replace him.
Maharashtra unit chief Ashok Chavan, Uttar Pradesh unit chief Raj Babbar, and Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik have already sent their resignations.
Yogendra Misra, the district Congress chief in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh has also sent his resignation, owning moral responsibility for Rahul Gandhi’s defeat from Amethi.