NEW DELHI: Following yet another electoral drubbing at the hands of arch- rival, the BJP, the Congress sought to shield its vice- president Rahul Gandhi from any blame even as it ruled out any leadership role for his sister Priyanka Gandhi. Amid murmurs among Congressmen that Priyanka should take up the leadership role after the Lok Sabha debacle followed by Monday’s dismal performance in Maharashtra and Haryana, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala insisted that Priyanka has confined herself to Rae Bareli and Amethi Lok Sabha constituencies. “Crores of Congress workers have reposed their collective faith in Rahul Gandhi. Some individuals may have some doubt. As far as Congressmen are concerned, they have no doubt about his ability. They see the future of Congress in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. I think we should honour the feeling of crores of workers,” he said. The chrous for bringing Priyanka to the forefront was made on Sunday when about 200 Congress workers demonstrated outside the Congress headquarters here over the issue. Surjewala, however, said, “This question has been asked by all you many times and also answered from this podium. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has on her own limited her political role to Rae Bareli and Amethi. We should respect that decision.” At the same time, he said that the Congress will go for “course correction” and build a “new leadership” to arrest its sliding vote base in a number of states. Senior Congress leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the party has no future without Gandhi family leading it and there was no question of dumping Rahul. The choice of Rahul is a decision taken by all the members of the Gandhi family and attempts to create a Rahul versus Priyanka tussle is being made by some in the party to secure their turf.
Meanwhile, the Congress general secretaries’ meeting in the backdrop of Sunday’s defeat in Haryana and Maharashtra steered clear of any discussion on the issue. Instead, Janardan Dwivedi claimed they only focused on “organisational elections’’ that have to be completed by the end of this year. The grass-root the deadline is October 31. All AICC and state unit office-bearers along with the heads of the party’s frontal organisations will meet on October 28 to discuss the restructuring of the party.