Interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday demanded that the party "take note of our serious setbacks (and) put our house in order", after yet more disappointing performances in elections.
She said senior leaders from Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Bengal - the states that went to the polls in April-May - would be required to "brief us, very frankly, on our performance..."
"We want them to tell us why we performed well below expectation. These results tell us clearly that we need to put our house in order," Mrs Gandhi said, as she delivered the opening remarks at a meeting of the CWC (Congress Working Committee) - the party's highest decision-making body.
"We have to take note of our serious setbacks. To say we are deeply disappointed is to make an understatement. I intend to set up a small group to look at every aspect that caused such reverses and report back very quickly," she added.
The Congress was also set to discuss elections to choose a new President - a sensitive subject given the divide between senior leaders over the leadership of the party and its continuing poor performances.
The proposed date of the election is June 23, with nominations to close by June 7. However, final confirmation of the polling date is pending after some leaders voiced opposition.
Over the past year senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Shashi Tharoor and Kapil Sibal have called for "full-time" and "effective leadership" that will be "visible" and "active" in the field.
In August, 23 of them wrote to Mrs Gandhi to express concern over the decline of the party, and said that its revival was essential for the nation and democracy. They called for sweeping reforms, including decentralisation of power, empowerment of state units and organizational elections at every level.
The letter triggered a row that split the Congress down the middle and prompted an explosive seven-hour meeting of the CWC, during which Mrs Gandhi offered to resign before being persuaded by loyalists to remain in temporary charge.