Rahul Gandhi likely to resign as party chief today

After a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, top Congress leaders will deliberate on the party losses at a meeting of its top decision-making forum here today when party President Rahul Gandhi is likely to offer his resignation. According to Congress sources, the party has convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Saturday morning. Rahul Gandhi is likely to offer his resignation at the meet, party sources said.

The top Congress leadership will discuss the reasons of the serious setbacks in the elections and chart the way forward. The party suffered defeat for the second time successive general elections at the hands of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party and managed to bag only 52 seats in this election, up from 44 in the previous national poll five years ago, putting at risk the party’s bid to even the claim status of the leader of the opposition in parliament for which two more seats are needed.

Top party leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are expected to attend the meeting. There have already been voices within the Congress to introspect on why the party failed to reach out to the people. So severe was the defeat in this election that Rahul and some of its other leaders, including senior leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Maillikarjun Kharge lost from the traditional constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka respectively.

Meanwhile, the BJP crossed the 300-mark and was leading in one seat as counting for votes for 542 Lok Sabha seats neared its end today. Election Commission figures also showed the BJP had won 302 and was leading in one. The BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) are poised to clinch around 350 seats as against their tally of 336 won in the previous general elections.

The vote-counting exercise began on Thursday morning with early trends establishing the BJP's emphatic sweep making it evident that Modi's message, packaging muscular nationalism, security and Hindu pride, had worked wonders. Vote-counting was delayed because, for the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC tallied vote count on Electronic Voting Machines with voter verified paper audit trail slips in five polling stations in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.

The performance of India’s regional parties was mixed. The DMK in Tamil Nadu with 23 wins, the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh with 22 each, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra with 18 and the Janata Dal-United in Bihar with 16 made their presence felt in the election.

However, the other regional parties, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, did not fare well. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal(S) won 64 of the 80 seats in the key state, demolishing the challenge posed by the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance which 15 seats between them. While the SP won five seats BSP 10. Left parties CPI and CPI-M were left with five seats -- three for the CPI-M and two for the CPI. This is about half of their tally of 10 in 2014.

Such was the force of the BJP wave that even Congress president Rahul Gandhi lost in his bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to Smriti Irani, but in consolation prize won the Wayanad seat in Kerala. Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda also bit the dust when he lost the Tumkur seat in Karnataka where the BJP bagged 25 of the 28 seats.