Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad Yadav has said Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s offer to step down from the post will be suicidal for the party, and the social and political forces battling the Sangh Parivar, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday. The Sangh Parivar is an umbrella term used for associations affiliated to the Hindu nationalist movement.

The former Bihar chief minister is a prisoner at the Birsa Munda Central Jail and is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Ranchi at present.

Yadav said the Bharatiya Janata Party will distort Gandhi’s resignation if it happens. “It will amount to falling into the BJP’s trap,” Yadav said. “The moment someone else beyond the Gandhi-Nehru family replaces Rahul, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah brigade will paint the new leader as a ‘puppet’ remote-controlled by Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. This will play on it till the next general election. Why should Rahul give such an opportunity to his political detractors?”

The former Bihar chief minister said Opposition parties need to introspect on their failure against the “communal and fascist forces”. “The reason for the defeat is not far to seek,” Yadav said, pointing out that the Opposition had failed to build a national narrative.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal president said the Opposition parties were at a disadvantage because they failed to project one leader. “All across northern, eastern and western India, they fought it as though it were a state election,” Yadav added. “They failed to synchronise their strategy and actions. The people were looking for a national alternative, which the Opposition parties – fighting in a disoriented manner in their respective states – failed to provide.”

The former chief minister said the Opposition parties should have nominated Gandhi as their prime ministerial candidate, considering the Congress’s nationwide presence. “There was nothing wrong for the regional parties to bargain for more seats but they should not have done the strategic blunder of not projecting someone who has a national perspective as the Prime Minister candidate.”

Yadav said the Opposition failed to present a united picture. “It was not the battle of Modi versus Mamata didi or Modi versus Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav or Modi versus Tejashwi Yadav,” the veteran politician added. “It was the battle between a fascist order and the marginalised people, unemployed youths, distressed farmers and persecuted minorities all across India.”

He advised the Opposition to keep working on strategies in their respective states.

Stalin calls up Gandhi

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin called up Gandhi and requested him not to resign, ANI reported. In response, Gandhi congratulated Stalin on his Lok Sabha victory in Tamil Nadu.

The DMK is in an alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu. The alliance won 38 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state, results for which were announced on May 23.

Stalin was the first Opposition leader to endorse Gandhi as a candidate for prime minister, back in December 2018. He remained supportive of Gandhi throughout the Lok Sabha elections.

On May 25, the Congress said Gandhi had offered to resign as the party president. But the Congress Working Committee unanimously rejected it and requested him to continue as the party’s leader. The Congress managed to win only 52 Lok Sabha seats compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s tally of 303 constituencies.