Joining the debate over Rahul Gandhi’s status in the Congress, senior party leader and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday described the Nehru-Gandhi family scion as the “most efficient” leader of the party and wanted him to return to its helm.
Baghel said Rahul’s leadership has never been challenged within the party, even after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, unlike Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and even his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi had resigned as the Congress President after the party performed miserably in this year’s Lok Sabha elections, bagging only 52 seats in the 543-member House. After his resignation, Sonia Gandhi has been made Interim President of the party.
“He (Rahul) has been working hard. It is a different matter that the public did not accept him,” Baghel said.
Describing Rahul as the “most efficient” leader of the Congress, Baghel wanted him to return as the party chief.
“Even after facing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, no one questioned Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. The leadership of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were challenged within the party, but Rahul Gandhi’s leadership has never been challenged,” said the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister.
His comments came at a time when questions are being raised within the party over Rahul’s exit from the top Congress post.
Senior party leader Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said Rahul should not have “walked away” and suggested that the party was in a crisis after the Lok Sabha poll debacle.
Another party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also favoured introspection in the party.
On BJP’s sustained attack on Rahul Gandhi, Baghel said the ruling party was doing so as it was “afraid” of him.
While defending Rahul, Baghel said the former Congress chief had the courage to “concede” defeat after the Lok Sabha poll results but “BJP does not accept its defeat”.
Baghel also responded to BJP’s attack that only a person from Gandhi family can become the Congress chief, saying, “Can BJP leaders question Mohan Bhagwat whether he will remain the RSS chief for lifetime? When they can’t question the Sangh leadership, why are they asking Congress who its leader should be?”
He said while “Congress is a major political party”, the BJP is just a part of the Sangh Parivar. “The RSS has several organizations and outfits and BJP is its political face only,” he said.