New Delhi: Barely three weeks after the Congress received a drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, party chief Rahul Gandhi flew out to London on a week-long trip Tuesday. He left a day before spokesperson Randeep Surjewala quashed rumours of the party chief’s resignation.
A senior party functionary, who did not wish to be named, said Gandhi left soon after his meeting with senior Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu. He is expected to return to India on June 17 for the monsoon session of Parliament.
Before leaving for London, Gandhi had taken a short trip to Wayanad over the weekend to thank people for electing him with a massive mandate.
Escape to UK?
Uncertainty loomed large over Gandhi’s offer to quit as Congress president, days after the party’s embarrassing defeat in the general elections. The party won 52 seats, only eight more than its 2014 tally. The number also falls two short of securing the post of leader of opposition.
“He did not want to meet anyone before leaving,” the senior Congress leader said, adding how the Congress chief had “expressly conveyed” his wish to not discuss the matter of his resignation in the last Congress Working Committee meeting.
In the weeks since, the party has continuously tried to convince Gandhi to reconsider his decision. Seniors leaders also kept trying to seek an audience with him to convince him of the same.
“Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was in Delhi for nearly four days to meet Gandhi but in vain,” the senior leader said.
“Perhaps he just wanted to escape all of this and left for London,” he added.
Gandhi has faced flak in the past for taking frequent foreign trips at crucial junctures, stalling decision- making process in the party.
Putting speculation to rest, Surjewala had Wednesday said, “Rahul is, was and will remain party president”, after an informal meeting of leaders held under the “guidance” of senior party leader A.K. Antony.