NEW DELHI – The leader of India’s main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, tendered his resignation on Saturday following his party’s poor performance in recent elections but his move was blocked by Congress members, who rejected his offer.
Rahul Gandhi, leader of the center-left Congress Party, offered to step down after his formation took just 52 parliamentary seats in the elections held between April 11 – May 19, which were won by current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP took a resounding 303 seats in results released Thursday.
The offer of resignation and the party’s refusal of it had been widely expected.
“Congress President, Shri Rahul Gandhi in his address to the CWC (Congress Working Committee) offered his resignation as the party president. The CWC unanimously and with one voice rejected the same and requested the Congress President for his leadership and guidance in these challenging times,” the party’s committee said in a statement following a private meeting.
The party called on Gandhi to continue the “ideological battle” in India for the good of young people, the poor, minorities, low castes and disadvantaged sectors.
Congress has spent much of India’s seven decades of democracy, which began with the end of British colonial rule, in power.
Most of its leaders have been linked to the Rahul family. Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, his grandmother Indira Gandhi, his father Rajiv Gandhi were all prime ministers. His mother, Sonia Gandhi, also led the Congress party.
“Congress has lost the battle but our fight against divisive forces and our commitment to our principles continue to be stronger” the party’s main spokesman, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said in a press conference.
The voting process for the Indian general elections began on April 11 and continued in seven phases until May 19, with the subsequent count of the votes on May 23.
Modi’s BJP secured an easy majority with 303 of the 542 seats in the chamber.
The decline of Congress in 2014 was precipitated by corruption allegations but few expected the so-called “wave Modi” to strengthen into another term in office.