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Protests at Congress office against Rahul Gandhi’s resignation

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Congress leaders and workers staged a sit-in on Tuesday to cajole an unrelenting Rahul Gandhi to reconsider his decision to step down as party president.

The day-long protest in the lawns of the Congress headquarters in Delhi also saw a party worker from Delhi climbing a tree to attempt suicide in a bid to persuade Gandhi to withdraw his resignation offer. But he was stopped by the other Congress workers present there.

“Rahul Gandhi should take back his resignation else I will hang myself from a tree,” Congress worker Hanif Khan told reporters before making the attempt.

While there were no speeches, the protestors listened to Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite hymns and bhajans, including “Vaishnava Jan To”.

The protest came a day after five Congress chief ministers -Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) — failed to persuade Rahul Gandhi to reconsider his decision at a nearly two-hour meeting.

Rahul Gandhi had offered to resign at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on May 25 following the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections when it managed to win just 52 seats.

He had asked the CWC to appoint a new chief but the party’s highest decision making body rejected the offer and passed a resolution, authorising him to revamp the organisation.

With Rahul Gandhi adamant on stepping down, several party leaders too have submitted their resignations to put pressure on him to change his mind.

The Congress leaders, including Prakash Joshi, Virendra Vashisht, Naseeb Singh, Rajesh Lilothia, Shobha Oza, Jagdish Tytler and others ended their protest by watching the movie ‘Gandhi’ on a big screen installed in the lawns of the party headquarters.

Senior leaders such as Motilal Vora, Ashok Gehlot, Ahmed Patel, Avinash Pande, Deepak Babaria and RPN Singh met the protesting workers and assured them that they will convey their message and sentiments to Rahul Gandhi.

Joshi said they have told the senior leaders that they are requesting Gandhi to reconsider his decision. “We have also resolved to stand by Rahul Gandhi if he has taken his decision after a proper thought process,” he said.

Uncertainty reigns supreme in the grand old party as leaders and workers are not sure if Rahul Gandhi will take heed to their appeal. In case he sticks to his stand, the party will have to pick a new chief. Several names have been doing the rounds.

Congress leaders now claim that the stalemate could end after the return of Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi from the United States where Robert Vadra is reportedly undergoing treatment. The Gandhis are leaving on July 5 after the presentation of the Union Budget.

“A Congress Working Committee meeting is expected to be called anytime soon to break the deadlock,” a senior party functionary said.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi chaired a meeting of party leaders from Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

According to a statement by the Jammu and Kashmir Congress, Rahul Gandhi discussed the overall political and security situation of the state with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, general secretary in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni, general secretary in-charge organisation KC Venugopal and state chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir apart from candidates of the recent Lok Sabha elections Raman Bhalla (Jammu), Vikramaditya Singh (Udhampur) and Farooq Ahmed Mir (Baramula).

The 55-minute meeting also deliberated on the preparations for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

Rahul Gandhi asked party leaders to activate the cadre at various levels to highlight the failures of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the previous coalition regime in the state, the statement said.

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