New Delhi: Amid speculation that Congress President Rahul Gandhi may offer to resign, a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting is scheduled on Saturday to look into the reasons for the party’s Lok Sabha elections debacle and decide on its further course of action to take on the BJP, which has grown in strength over the last five years.
Rahul Gandhi has taken full responsibility for the party’s poll defeat and there is speculation that he may offer to resign at the CWC meeting.
However, the party leaders are backing him strongly and have said that the blame for party’s poor showing cannot be put on any one individual.
At the CWC meet, Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders are expected to give their assessment of what went wrong and the remedial steps that must be taken.
There was reports of Rahul Gandhi having offered to resign on Thursday, after the results, but the Congress denied those.
Rahul Gandhi himself answered the question at a press conference he addressed later in the day. “We will have a meeting of the Working Committee. That you can leave between me and the Working Committee,” he said.
He also admitted that the road for the party was long and tough, but asked party workers and leaders not to lose heart.
The Congress has won 52 seats in the elections, just eight more than the 44 it won in 2014. Rahul Gandhi was a prominent face in both the elections.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi may offer to resign during CWC meeting:
The party won a single seat (Rae Bareli) in Uttar Pradesh, but Rahul Gandhi himself failed to retain his family bation of Amethi in India’s biggest state. The loss is likely to have implications not just on Congress’ revival plans in Uttar Pradesh, but also on his own political standing as a leader. He won from Kerala’s Wayanad.
The results show that Rahul Gandhi, who became the Congress chief in 2017, has not been able to galvanise the party to offer a strong counter against the BJP, which has handed the main opposition party its worst electoral outcomes.
The Congress scored a nil in 18 states and Union territories in these elections, and failed to dent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it formed governments last year.
It delayed formation of an alliance in Bihar following which the opposition could win only one seat in the state.
Its poor electoral strategy has allowed saffron party to become a dominant force in West Bengal and strengthen itself further in Karnataka.
The party is again unlikely to have its own Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha as it does not have the minimum strength required to get the status as per rules.
Nine former chief ministers and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are among some of Congress’ prominent losers.
IAF An-32 goes missing in northeast, no trace of wreckage
An Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 transporter with 13 people on board went missing while flying from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh on Monday but there was no trace of the plane or its wreckage despite many hours of search.
The aircraft with 13 on board (eight aircrew and five passengers) had taken off from Assam’s Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district bordering China, but it lost contact with ground authorities at around 1 p.m.
The IAF flew sorties of its C-130 Super Hercules, An-32s and two Mi-17 helicopters along with Indian Army’s Advanced Light Helicopters to locate the missing aircraft. Several leads from the ground about the possible location of the crash site were followed but no wreckage was found.
The IAF said in a statement that search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was on his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after taking over two days ago, spoke to IAF vice chief, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria and took stock of rescue operations. IAF chief B.S Dhanoa was to be in Sweden on a four-day visit.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted: “Praying for safety of all 13 persons who were on board.”
The Deputy Commissioner of newly-created Shi Yomi district in Arunachal, Mito Dirchi, said there were some reports of a crash in the jungles of the district.
“We have sent a team for search which includes SP and some villagers. But we have not found any wreckage. We are going to search the areas tomorrow morning again.”
The disappearance of the An-32 on Monday is eerily similar to the incident that took place in the same month 10 years ago in the same location involving the same type of aircraft and same number of personnel. The aircraft that crashed on June 9, 2009 was also operating in the same area with 13 on board. The wreckage was found days later over the Rinchi Hill above Hyeo village, about 60 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Among the 13 personnel on board in the latest incident, six are IAF officers including a wing commander. The terrain and weather conditions in the area makes flying challenging and familiarization sorties are carried out routinely along with air maintenance operations for the border troops.
The IAF has around 100 An-32s and the fleet has been undergoing upgradation, adding new avionics and other features.
This is the second major incident after the disappearance of an An-32 over the Bay of Bengal in 2016 with 29 on board. The mystery behind the accident could never be solved as the massive search over sea was called off after no trace of wreckage was found. The flight was on the way to Port Blair from Chennai.