New Delhi: The Congress Friday defended its vice president Rahul Gandhi against mounting criticism in the party and said his sister Priyanka Gandhi only could decide if she wanted to take up a bigger role in the party.
Several Congress politicians have in the last couple of days targeted the advisors of Rahul Gandhi and blamed them for the party's poll debacle. Former MP Milind Deora Wednesday told an English daily that those receiving the advice were also at fault.
The remark was widely interpreted as being critical of Rahul Gandhi for his dependence on the advisors, most of whom come from a non-political background. The demand for Priyanka Gandhi to lead the party was voiced by outgoing Food Minister K.V.Thomas in an interview to IANS Wednesday.
Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said that Rahul Gandhi "was the fittest leader for every responsibility assigned by the nation and the party. No attacks have been made on him by any Congress leader".
"After the Lok Sabha (election) results, both Rahul and (his mother and Congress president) Sonia Gandhi accepted the responsibility for the poor results. Both offered their resignations at the meeting of the CWC (Congress Working Committee or the party's highest decision-making body) but it was unanimously rejected."
On Thomas's statement, Ahmad said the decision could only be made by Priyanka Gandhi herself.
"We cannot force her. It is her own decision to limit herself to working in the constituencies of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (Rae Bareli and Amethi, respectively). If she ever decides to act otherwise, it will be her own decision. Her meetings in Amethi and Rae Bareli during the poll campaign drew the attention of national and international media. We find that very pleasant," he said.
Ahmad "strongly condemned" the terrorist attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan early Friday and demanded that the Afghan government should ensure that such attacks "are not repeated".
He added that in light of the attacks, there did not exist the "atmosphere for serious talks" with Pakistan.
BJP's PM-designate Narendra Modi has invited Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony due on May 26, along with heads of states of other member-countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)