Rahul only Cong leader with pan-India appeal, must stay, says Kharge

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, M Mallikarjun Kharge, said anyone aspiring to lead the party should be known throughout the country. Other than Rahul, no one in the party has a pan-India appeal, he said

Mallikarjun Kharge,
Kharge also referred to the party's upcoming "Bharat Jodo Yatra", and said Rahul Gandhi is needed for Jodo Bharat | File Image

Rahul Gandhi will be pursued to return as Congress President as there is none in the party other than him who has a pan-India appeal, veteran leader M Mallikarjun Kharge said.

The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said anyone aspiring to lead the party should be known throughout the country and enjoy support from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and West Bengal to Gujarat.

“He should be well-recognised, accepted by the entire Congress party,” Kharge told PTI in Bengaluru on Friday (August 26). “So, no body is there (in the party with such a stature).

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He recalled that all senior leaders had “forced” Sonia Gandhi to join and work for the party and had requested Rahul Gandhi to “come and fight”. “You tell me the alternative. Who is there? (in the party other than Rahul Gandhi),” Kharge asked.

On reports that Rahul Gandhi is unwilling to take up the mantle, Kharge said, he will be requested and asked to take charge “for the sake of the party, for the sake of the country, for fighting the RSS-BJP and to keep the country united”.

Kharge also referred to the party’s upcoming “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, and said Rahul Gandhi is needed for Jodo Bharat”. “We will ask him, we will force him and request him (to return as Congress President). We stand behind him. We will try to pursue him,” the former Union Minister said.

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The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, will hold a virtual meeting on Sunday (August 28) to approve the schedule of dates for the election of the Congress president.

Sonia Gandhi will preside over the CWC meeting. Several leaders have been publicly exhorting Rahul Gandhi to become party chief again. However, uncertainty and suspense continue on the issue.

Several party insiders say Rahul Gandhi is persisting with his stance that he will not be the AICC president. He resigned as Congress president after the party suffered its second consecutive defeat in Parliamentary elections in 2019.

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Sonia Gandhi who took over the reins of the party as interim president, had also offered to quit in August 2020 after an open revolt by a section of leaders, referred to as G-23, but the CWC had urged her to continue.

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(With inputs from agencies)