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The Congress today (Monday, May 27) urged the media not to resort to speculation or gossip amid leaks about the proceedings at a working committee meeting on Saturday and reports of Rahul Gandhi resigning as party president.

The appeal came after reports about Congress president Rahul Gandhi pulling up senior Congress leaders of focusing on their son’s constituency to the detriment of party’s poll campaign in their states.

In the churning that is on in the party, six of the Congress state unit chiefs were reported to have sent their resignations to the party headquarters, owning responsibility for the poll debacle.

Rahul Gandhi, whose offer to resign was unanimously rejected by the Congress Working Committee on Saturday, was reported to have made up his mind to step down, reports said today.

One Congress leader was reported to have said that Rahul has asked senior functionaries of the party to find his replacement soon.

However, Gandhi was “not abandoning the post” until the party finds a new person for the top job, but is “determined to quit”, reported NDTV. It also reported that both his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka agree with his decision although they had initially tried to convince him against it.

Rahul insisted that he alone had to take the responsibility for the electoral debacle of the Congress party and a change of guard could push the party towards new thinking, reported TheWire.

“It is not necessary that the president should be from Gandhi family,” NDTV quoted Congress sources as saying. He reportedly shot down the idea that his sister Priyanka could be his replacement.  “Don’t drag my sister into it,” Gandhi is supposed to have said when Priyanka’s name came up, according to NDTV.

Rahul has pulled up senior leaders like P Chidambaram and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan chief ministers Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot for focussing only on the constituencies from where their sons were contesting, media reports said.

He also supposedly said that senior leaders of the party did not back his “chowkidar chorhai” campaign enough.

Meanwhile, TheWire reported, the Congress is also reflecting on who could be its next parliamentary party leader. Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost from his stronghold of Gulbarga in Karnataka, had led the Congress in the last Lok Sabha.

A Congress leader said that Shashi Tharoor, MP from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, MP from Baharampur in West Bengal, were under consideration for the post. While Tharoor appears to have more support in the CWC, some Congress leaders feel that Chowdhury, who is the senior-most MP, should lead the party in the 17th Lok Sabha.

The party is likely to decide over the next few days. The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha is expected to begin in the first week of June, from June 6.

Like last time, the party has again fallen short of the required numbers to nominate one of its elected MPs for the leader of opposition position. A minimum of 55 seats, or at least 10% of the total strength of Lok Sabha, is required for that chair. Congress could get only 52 seats in the recently-concluded elections.

Amid all these reports, the Congress issued a statement calling for an end to conjectures and speculation.

Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked the media to respect the sanctity of the closed-door meeting of the Congress Working Committee that took place on Saturday after the party won just 52 seats in the Lok Sabha in the recently-concluded elections.

“CWC held a collective deliberation on the performance of the party, the challenges before it as also the way ahead, instead of casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual,” Surjewala said.

“Various conjectures, speculations, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour mongering in a section of the media is uncalled for and unwarranted,” Surjewala said in a statement. Surjewala requested the media “to not fall into the trap of conjectures or speculations”.

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