Rahul Gandhi steps down as Congress president

Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday called serving the Congress Party “an honour” as he resigned as the leader of India’s main opposition party, saying he owed “the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love”.

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“I was born a Congressman, this party has always been with me and is my life’s blood and forever that way it shall remain,” said Gandhi at the end of a four-page letter shared on Twitter.

Earlier in the day, according to Hindustan Times, Gandhi had told reporters that the party must quickly decide on the new chief and that its top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), must meet at the earliest to pick a new president. “I have already submitted my resignation and I am no longer the party president,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.

On Tuesday, Gandhi — whose father, grandmother and great grandfather were all former prime ministers — had spurned appeals to reconsider his resignation as leader of the Congress party after losing a second general election to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Stuck between a leader determined to quit and party officials unwilling to accept his leaving, Congress is effectively leaderless more than a month after its election drubbing and facing key state polls later this year.

Chief ministers from five Congress-ruled states went to New Delhi on Monday where they spent two hours trying to convince Gandhi to reverse his May 25 decision to resign.

“We told him our point of view, openly, in a long conversation,” Ashok Gehlot, a senior Congress leader and chief minister of Rajasthan, told reporters.

A close aide to Gandhi, speaking to Reuters after the meeting, had said the 49-year-old was firm about stepping aside as Congress president, a position he held since succeeding his mother, Sonia Gandhi, in late 2017.

“He will never change his mind,” the aide had said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Reuters

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