A day after Rahul Gandhi announced his resignation as Congress president in a public letter owning responsibility for the party’s national election defeat, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “Few have the courage that you do”.
Rahul Gandhi, 49, posted a long letter on Wednesday making public a decision he had conveyed to Congress leaders last month and asserting that he had resigned as “accountability is critical” for the future growth of the Congress.
“Few have the courage that you do @rahulgandhi. Deepest respect for your decision,” wrote Priyanka Gandhi, who is two years younger to her brother and a Congress leader.
In his letter, Rahul Gandhi had said: “It is a habit in India that the powerful cling to power, no one sacrifices power. But we will not defeat our opponents without sacrificing the desire for power and fighting a deeper ideological battle.”
Calling for “radical transformation” in the Congress, he added: “Rebuilding the party requires hard decisions and numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019. It would be unjust to hold others accountable but ignore my own responsibility as president of the party.”
His words indicated he was determined to relinquish his family’s hold on the Congress, which has been mostly headed by generations of leaders from the Nehru-Gandhi family in its 133-year-old history. “Most of my colleagues suggested that I nominate the next Congress president. While it is important for someone new to lead the party, it would not be correct for me to select that person,” wrote Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi, who took over the top post from his mother Sonia Gandhi in 2017, had first told party leaders about his decision to quit at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on May 25, just days after the second straight election rout for the party compared to a spectacular haul for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.
Priyanka Gandhi as well as Sonia Gandhi had supported him; Priyanka Gandhi, who joined politics in January as Congress general secretary, had even questioned how strongly other leaders had supported her brother’s campaign.
The Congress chief’s defeat in his traditional constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, which reduced the party to just one in the 80-seat state, also cut deep. Rahul Gandhi made it to parliament only because of his win in the second constituency he contested this time, Kerala’s Wayanad. Priyanka Gandhi had campaigned in Amethi while her brother focused on rallies in other parts of the country.
As the Congress stares at the task of choosing a new leader, several leaders have urged Rahul Gandhi to reconsider his decision, insisting that he would always be their chief.