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Rahul Gandhi adamant on stepping down as Congress party chief

In possibly the clearest indication yet that a Gandhi is unlikely to be the next Congress president, Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that he would stick to his decision to step down as party chief and would not even be involved in the process of selection of the next chief. Mr Gandhi’s comment comes in the backdrop of speculation that Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot might be the next Congress president.

Interacting with reporters outside Parliament’s Central Hall on Thursday, Mr Gandhi said he was sticking to his resolve and would not be involved in the process of the
selection of the new party president as well.

After the Congress’ rout in the recent Lok Sabha polls, Mr Gandhi had told the Congress Working Committee of his resolve to quit as party president.

On Thursday, he said there needs to be accountability in the system and he had conveyed his decision to the party that he would stick his resolve to step down.

When asked about the possibility of Mr Gehlot replacing him, the Congress president said: “I am not the one who will appoint the party president. I am not going to get involved in that process, else it will complicate things. The party has to decide.”

The Wayanad MP was also asked about Rafale finding a mention in President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint session of both Houses. To this, he replied that “I maintain my stand that there has been theft in the Rafale jet deal”.

The Congress has already petitioned the CVC for a probe into the alleged corruption in the fighter jet deal. The government has, however, denied any corruption, saying there was no wrongdoing or favouritism in the deal.

Over the past few weeks, there had been an attempt to get Mr Gandhi to accept the role of the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha. But after he refused, the party named a senior West Bengal leader, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, to the post.

Though there is no official confirmation or denial over the speculation about Mr Gehlot replacing Mr Gandhi as party president, an aspect of this development can be the handing over of the reins of the Rajasthan government to deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot. It might be recalled that Mr Pilot and Mr Gehlot are bitter rivals in state politics.

There was also speculation that instead of a single head, the Congress might have three to four working presidents in place of Mr Gandhi.

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