Chennai: The Congress in Tamilnadu yesterday took out a rally here urging Rahul Gandhi to continue as party president, asserting he was in no way responsible for the Lok Sabha poll drubbing.
Strongly rooting for the leadership of Nehru-Gandhi family, the Tamilnadu Congress Committee said “no force on earth can separate the Nehru family’s leadership and the Congress party.”
In no way Rahul Gandhi’s leadership could be blamed for the electoral setback suffered by the Congress in the recent Lok Sabha polls, a resolution adopted at the end of the rally said. The show of support by the state Congress, which put up a good showing winning eight seats it contested in alliance with the DMK, came amid various state units and senior leaders rallying behind Gandhi and asking him to take back his offer to resign as party chief in the wake of the poll outcome.
Gandhi, who announced his decision to quit the top party post at the Congress Working Committee meeting, has stuck to his stand and been staying away from meeting party leaders. Anxious moments, meanwhile, prevailed for a while near the Kamarajar Arangam, where the rally culminated, when two party functionaries attempted to set themselves on fire to urge Gandhi to continue as party chief.
The duo, identified as Riyaz and Rajan of the North Chennai party unit, was overpowered at the “right time” before they could light a match, Congress functionary R Raviraj said. “It took all of us by surprise. I have warned them against venturing into such acts. These are against Congress culture,” TNCC President K S Alagiri told PTI.
He said only Rahul Gandhi can lead the party and urged him to continue in office. Chanting slogans like “Vendum vendum Rahulin thalamai vendum,” (We need the leadership of Rahul) and waving party flags, Congress workers commenced their rally from the DMS Metro station and ended it at nearby Kamarajar Arangam, a short distance.
“We humbly request Rahul Gandhi to consider this fervent appeal, made on behalf of the multitude of Congress workers and supporters, and refrain from stepping down from the party president’s post,” the resolution said. No party worker will accept Gandhi taking responsibility for the electoral set back and none will allow him to step down, the resolution read. “Rahul Gandhi has the enthusiasm, mental strength and energy to pull the Congress out of the present situation.”
The TNCC chief praised Gandhi for his “extensive and efficient poll campaign and political acumen.” Gandhi infused a new energy in the party when he took over as party chief in 2017, and if every Congress worker had matched his enthusiasm and dedication, there would not have been a setback, the resolution said. At this moment, it was the bounden duty of each of the party workers to do some introspection and ask as to what extent they dedicated themselves for the party.
“We know for sure that in no way can Rahul Gandhi be held responsible for the poor performance of our party in the elections, which this meeting reinforces.” The leadership position going to a member of Pandit Nehru’s family was “through democratic means and based on the choice of the people,” the TNCC resolution said.
In the past, when the nation’s unity and integrity came under threat, leaders from the Nehru family — Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had laid down their lives. “It is the supreme sacrifice of such tall leaders that had made the Congress workers prefer and choose a member of the Nehru family as their leader with utmost admiration and support,” it said.
The poll drubbing was only a “temporary slip,” and not a “fall,” the party said and asserted Rahul Gandhi alone can guide the party to reach “greater heights of glory through his able leadership”.
AICC secretaries Sanjay Dutt and Sirivella Prasad, Congress Legislature party leader in the state K R Ramasamy, newly elected Members of Parliament, MLAs, and TNCC office-bearers took party in the rally.