Having suffered the worst electoral defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul yesterday “offered to resign” from the party taking moral responsibility but it was rejected by the party's highest decision-making forum.
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), where Sonia and Rahul were understood to have made the offer, however, passed a resolution expressing full faith in their leadership.
"We will fight under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi", party spokesperson Raj Babbar said.
The CWC, which met here yesterday to discuss the party's drubbing in the elections, authorised Sonia to draw up a roadmap for the party's political recovery, party sources said.
Congress crashed to its worst-ever defeat last week, securing just 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha in the elections which saw Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) storming back to power with a comfortable majority for the first time in 30 years.
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the CWC meeting that the resignation of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are no solution to the problems faced by the party.
Another senior Congress leader from Punjab state, who attended the CWC meeting, said "they (Sonia and Rahul) are the best leadership we have. It was a collective responsibility". The Indian media have already been abuzz with reports that Sonia, 67, and Rahul, 43, would offer to step down but their resignation would almost certainly be rejected by colleagues.
Rahul was seen having run a listless campaign of Congress which was seeking a third conseuctive term in power.
The media also carried reports about speculation that senior Congress leaders would press for a greater role in the party for Rahul's younger sister Priyanka who had entered campaigning late in the election cycle but was stated to have fared better than her brother.
"Where does the question of either the Congress president or vice president resigning even arise?" outgoing Congress minister Manish Tiwari told the CNN-IBN channel today.
"It is a collective responsibility for all of us as a whole," he added.
Congress' defeat came in the backdrop of economic slowdown, rising food prices and a slew of corruption scandals for the last five years.