Rahul Gandhi has stepped down as president of the main opposition Indian National Congress party, taking responsibility for its second-straight landslide defeat in India’s national elections.
“Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president,” Gandhi said in a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Wednesday.
In his four-page letter, Gandhi said the Congress Party must radically transform itself in order to help “reclaim and resuscitate our institutions”.
“We didn’t fight a political party in the 2019 election. Rather, we fought the entire machinery of the Indian state, every institution of which was marshalled against the opposition. It is now crystal clear that our once cherished institutional neutrality no longer exists in India,” Gandhi wrote.
It is an honour for me to serve the Congress Party, whose values and ideals have served as the lifeblood of our beautiful nation.
I owe the country and my organisation a debt of tremendous gratitude and love.
Jai Hind 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/WWGYt5YG4V
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 3, 2019
Gandhi’s resignation follows Congress’s crushing electoral defeat where it won only 52 seats in India’s lower house of parliament this year, barely improving the historic low of 44 it won in Modi’s last landslide in 2014.
The party failed to win any seats in 13 of the country’s 29 states.
Gandhi even lost the family seat in the constituency of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh – a Congress stronghold almost continuously since the 1960s – which he had held since 2004.
The defeat raised serious questions about Gandhi’s leadership and cast a damaging shadow over one of the world’s most prominent political dynasties.
Gandhi, who was seeking to become the fourth member of his family to be named prime minister, had been Congress president since December 2017.
The election results made grim reading for Congress barons who have relied for generations on the talismanic Nehru-Gandhi name to provide electoral success.
Gandhi said in his letter that the Congress Working Committee would entrust a group of people with the task of searching for a new president.
“I will, of course, continue to fight for the ideals of the Congress Party with all my strength,” Gandhi said.