Sonia and Rahul Gandhi offered to resign yesterday after leading the once-dominant Congress party to its worst-ever election defeat last week, only for colleagues to insist the dynasty stay in place, an MP said.
Sonia, the 67-year-old Congress party president, entrusted campaigning for the first time to her son and vice president Rahul, whose lacklustre performance failed to convince voters as Congress sought a third term in power.
"They both offered to resign but the party rejected it unanimously," member of parliament Amarinder Singh told reporters after a meeting of the Congress's top decision-making body in New Delhi.
The Press Trust of India reported that the Congress Working Committee passed a unanimous resolution "expressing full faith in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi".
The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has provided three prime ministers, including independent India's first, but analysts are increasingly questioning if it is the vote-winner it used to be.
"Economic growth and social mobility have radically transformed how younger Indians think and behave," leading historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in Kolkata-based The Telegraph newspaper at the weekend.
The Congress has ruled for all but 13 years of India's post-independence history and has run the country for the last 10 years at the head of the left-leaning coalition. But the right-wing BJP's victory under hardline leader Narendra Modi has redrawn the political map.
Speculation has swirled that Congress could call upon Rahul's younger sister Priyanka to play a greater role. She entered campaigning late in the election cycle to more favourable reviews than her brother.