Rahul Gandhi was, is and will remain the Congress president, chief spokesperson of the party Randeep Surjewala said on Wednesday, ending the speculation triggered by Gandhi's insistence to quit the post for the time being.
Surjewala's assertion came after an informal meeting presided by former Union minister A K Antony, in which senior Congress leaders discussed the party's strategy and preparations for the Assembly elections in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Maharashtra later this year.
Gandhi had offered to quit as the party chief during a May 25 meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which was called to analyse the party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, in which it managed to win just 52 seats.
The CWC had unanimously rejected his offer to quit but Gandhi was apparently firm on his stand.
"Rahulji was, is and will remain the Congress president. We have no doubt about it," Surjewala told reporters, when asked about the situation arising out of Gandhi's offer to resign.
Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma and Surjewala were present at the meeting held at Congress's war room at 15 GRG here.
All the leaders present at the meeting were members of the party's core group, which was formed for the Lok Sabha polls.
However, Surjewala clarified that contrary to the speculation in the media, there was no core group in the party now as all election-related committees had ceased to exist.
Surjewala said Venugopal, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary, organisation, had said a meeting of the party's general secretaries would be called to take stock of the situation arising out of the Lok Sabha polls and on the upcoming state elections.
Asked about who would be the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, he said according to the party constitution, Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi was authorised to take a decision in this regard, adding that it would be conveyed once the decision was taken by her.
Following Gandhi's insistence on quitting, there is a speculation on the need to put in place an interim arrangement in the Congress for decision making, especially in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
However, most leaders have been hoping that Gandhi will continue to lead the party as the Nehru-Gandhi family acts as a "glue" that binds the Congress together.
Meanwhile, rumblings within the state units of the party have also been growing louder over its massive defeat in the Lok Sabha election.