Rahul Gandhi Should Stay, Says Ally HD Kumaraswamy, Meeting Tomorrow

Bengaluru: 

The Congress’s Karnataka ally, HD Kumaraswamy, of the Janata Dal Secular, is about to add his voice to the leaders who want Rahul Gandhi to continue as the party president. Mr Gandhi has been adamant about his decision to step down from the post after the party’s decimation by the BJP in the Lok Sabha election. The Congress has repeatedly refused to accept this decision and the impasse has been continuing since Saturday, when Mr Gandhi announced his intention at a meeting of the party’s Working Committee.

“I will meet him tomorrow and speak to him. He should not resign,” said Mr Kumaraswamy, who is expected to be in Delhi to attend the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The alliance between the Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy was struck after the assembly elections last May at the initiative of Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. Despite having more than twice the number of lawmakers, the Congress had agreed to take a backseat and offered the Chief Minister’s post to Mr Kumaraswamy’s party to keep the BJP out of power.

Mr Kumaraswamy and Mr Gandhi have since struck up a rapport, and the two have met on several occasions to iron out wrinkles in the coalition.

The alliance has also been hit by the victory march of the BJP, winning only two of the Karnataka’s state’s 28 seats and is currently bracing for what it expects to be a huge BJP effort to poach on its lawmakers.  Internal bickering, on between the local leaders of the two parties since the coalition was formed, has also grown since the since the election rout.

A series of meetings are being held and a cabinet expansion is being planned to retain those who might be on their way out.

Senior Congress leader K Venugopal, who reached the state late last night, met party leaders and Mr Kumaraswamy this morning. A meeting of the legislature party is scheduled this evening in which the party expects to discuss the issue.

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