Hectic activities continued in the Congress on Tuesday to tide over the crisis that has hit the grand old party in the wake of the dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, with party chief Rahul Gandhi insisting on quitting the post, leaving the leaders gasping for ways to placate him.
Led by Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a host of party leaders met the angry and sulking Congress President at his residence through the day, amid reports that he had conveyed to them that he could at best lead the party in Parliament as the chief of Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).
Besides Priyanka, who stayed with her brother for most of the day, those who met Rahul included party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala and senior leader Pramod Tewari.
With Rahul being adamant, a presidium system to govern the party is being considered, wherein a group of senior leaders will run the show.
Party sources said Rahul is unlikely to be the party leader in the Lok Sabha and the post may go to someone else as happened in the previous House. But Rahul can be the CPP leader.
Two senior Congress General Secretaries, whom IANS spoke to, said Rahul was not willing to take the position of leader of the Congress in the Lower House, which will not have the status of Leader of Opposition, a Cabinet rank, because of the lack of adequate numbers.
They said Rahul was more eager to continue the ideological battle against the BJP and its mentor RSS in and outside Parliament.
The leaders said Rahul had taken the party's poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections personally and offered to step down as the Congress President and called for someone outside the Gandhi family to head the party.
He has told senior leaders that he did not want to get into the appointments of state unit and district chiefs.
The party is in deep crisis as resignations by senior leaders are piling up across the states ever since its poor show in the Lok Sabha polls in which it bagged only 52 seats in the 543-member House. The number is just 8 more than it got in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Rahul, in the wake of the party's poll debacle, had offered to resign during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held on Saturday last but it was unanimously rejected.
The CWC, which is the party's top decision-making body, authorised him to make structural changes in the party.
However, he has remained adamant on quitting the post and efforts are being made to convince him to change his position.
Rahul is particularly unhappy with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as he feels he did not do enough for the party to be able to score well in the Lok Sabha elections in the state where the Congress performed well in the Assembly polls and formed the government only six months back.
He refused to meet Gehlot on Monday and asked him to meet Venugopal instead.
On Tuesday, Gehlot went to Rahul's residence and later met party Treasurer Ahmed Patel at the Congress office here before returning to Jaipur.
The Congress is expected to call another CWC meeting within the next four days.
Rahul had blamed Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for devoting more time in the constituencies of their sons instead of doing more for the party in the elections.
Rahul Gandhi ready to continue on the post of Congress president