Congress President Rahul Gandhi today offered to resign from the party post taking responsibility for its abject defeat in the just ended parliamentary elections while the party's top decision-making forum unanimously rejected it.
At the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held in New Delhi today to discuss the party's performance in the poll, Rahul offered to quit as party head in the wake of the defeat but the CWC unanimously adopted a resolution rejecting his offer, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media.
"Rahul said that I, as the chief of the party, should take responsibility and resign. At this, all CWC members cutting across age rejected his offer to quit," our New Delhi correspondent reports according to Azad whose party suffered its second consecutive parliamentary election defeat in five years.
"The CWC members told Rahulji that everyone accepts your leadership now and will continue to accept in future also," Azad, who was present in the CWC meeting, said adding that the party's highest decision-making forum authorized Rahul Gandhi to go for a total organizational restructuring and overhaul.
Azad said the CWC made it clear that the party needed Rahul's continued leadership of the party.
Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said that after Rahul offered to quit as party President, the CWC told him that the party wanted his leadership to continue "in this challenging time" and in future also.
Azad said he had seen several exercises in the CWC about resignations and withdrawal of resignations in the past but never saw before the kind of unanimity in the CWC today in favour of Rahul's leadership.
Rahul’s offer to resign and the CWC’s rejection of it was seen by political observers as a ritualistic exercise.
In 2014, the then Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the then Vice President Rahul Gandhi, both of whom had led the party’s campaign in parliamentary poll, had offered to quit after the party plunged to a historic low of 44 seats. But the Congress rejected the offer and assumed "collective responsibility" in order to ring-fence the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Surjewala said the CWC deliberated on the election results and agreed on the need for an introspection.
Azad said the Congress' loss in the election was not a defeat of its ideology but a defeat of the numbers. "After all, victory and loss are part of democracy," he added.
He said the Congress will continue to play the role of a constructive opposition both inside and outside parliament.
Congress bagged 52 seats in the recent poll, just eight more than 44 the party got in the previous national election five years ago when it had put up its worst electoral performance. The party failed to get any seat in 18 states and federally-administered territories.
In the recent election, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka campaigned extensively across the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP and its allies won a spectacular mandate of over 350 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha to continue for a second term. The mandate was bigger than the 2014 outcome.
Rahul Gandhi took over as the president of the Congress from his mother Sonia Gandhi in December 16, 2017.