Chief ministers of the Congress-ruled states on Monday urged Rahul Gandhi to continue as the party president, but the latter is believed to have stuck to his decision to quit, according to sources. The chief ministers of Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry met Gandhi and hoped that he will positively consider their plea.
The sources said Gandhi told them that he had already conveyed his decision to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and would not relent. The sources added that these chief ministers took moral responsibility for the party's defeat in Lok Sabha elections and some also offered their resignations, but a confirmation to this effect was not available.
The CMs held detailed discussion on the party's poll debacle as also apprised him of their own feelings as well as those of the party workers from across the country who want him to continue providing leadership to the grand old party.
"It was a good meeting that lasted around two hours. We expressed our feelings and it was a heart-to-heart talk in detail. We conveyed and apprised him about the feelings of Congress workers across the country and urged him to continue to lead the party," Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told reporters after the meeting.
He also said, "we hope that he will positively agree to our request to continue as Congress president and will take the right decision in time."
"In elections, victories and defeats happen. But the high command decides on future course of action. This issue has already been resolved as all chief ministers have offered their resignations at the meeting of Congress Working Committee on May 25," Gehlot said when asked about their offer to resign at the meeting.
"The entire CWC had offered to resign and authorised Rahul Gandhi to bring about changes in the party. So, this issue of resignation has already been resolved on May 25. It is no issue now," said Gehlot, who was accompanied by Amrinder Singh (Punjab), Kamal Nath (MP), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry).
Over 150 office-bearers have put in their papers after Gandhi's decision to quit. A common letter of resignation was also circulated on social media last week with the names and signatures of certain Congressmen. However, there was no official confirmation from the party of the letter.
Among several office-bearers of the Congress who resigned, the prominent ones included party's general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh Dipak Babaria, AICC SC department chairman Nitin Raut, AICC Kisan cell chairman Nana Patole and AICC in-charge of Chhattisgarh PL Punia and chairman of the party's legal and human rights cell Vivek Tankha.
Meanwhile, even in Karnataka, where the Congress-JD(S) coalition is in power, the party suffered a jolt on Monday after MLA Anand Singh announced his resignation from the assembly over certain demands.
Also unconfirmed reports suggested that another Congress MLA -- Ramesh Jarkiholi -- too has resigned but he not was available for comments.
Gehlot said the chief ministers met Gandhi at his residence and analysed the Lok Sabha poll debacle in detail, holding the BJP responsible for hiding behind nationalism and the valour of armed forces.
"We want that in today's circumstances, Gandhi's message to the country of doing issue-based politics is seen by everyone, and only he can lead the party," he said.
"We firmly believe that only he can lead the party in the current scenario, his commitment towards well-being of our country and countrymen is un-compromised and unmatched," Gehlot had said before the meeting.
He said the 2019 election was not a defeat of the programmes, policies and ideology of the Congress. Gehlot said it was unfortunate that the BJP managed to hide its "huge failures" behind "fanatic nationalism" and with the help of enormous resources of the government machinery.
(With PTI inputs)