When the names of Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Mukul Wasnik and Jyotiraditya Scindia were proposed at the sub-group discussions, very few hands came up in agreement. Worried at the prospect of a split in the party ranks, the Congress fell back on Sonia Gandhi to lead the party, and she was chosen as the party's interim Congress President.
After day-long deliberations, the Congress on Saturday failed to name a party leader from outside the Gandhi family. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) finally accepted Rahul's resignation. He resigned on May 25, and the Congress remained without a head for 77 days.
With all the five party sub-groups unitedly proposing Rahul Gandhi's name as party chief, and Rahul refusing to go back on his decision, the mantle fell on Sonia Gandhi again to shepherd the party as an interim measure.
Sonia Gandhi was requested to lead the party out of its troubled times and help it make a comeback. According to party sources, Sonia will "recast the current committee of party general secretaries" in the coming days.
Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Congress communications in-charge and CWC member, said the party decided on Sonia Gandhi's name as it wanted a strong leadership, one whose command would be accepted by all.
Congress leader KC Venugopal, said the CWC "unanimously resolved to request Sonia Gandhi to take over as the Interim President, pending the election of a regular president by the AICC."
Earlier, the CWC decided that Rahul Gandhi "should continue as Congress President, as desired by all who were consulted today, and requested him to accept this decision". However, Rahul "declined to withdraw his resignation".
The CWC also put on record "its profound sense of appreciation and gratitude for the exceptional leadership provided by Rahul Gandhi as president".
"He led the party with unbounded pride, determination and dedication. He campaigned in the assembly and national elections with indefatigable energy. He stood up fearlessly on issues of day-to-day concern to kisans, khet mazdoors, workers, traders and small businesses, youth, women, minorities, Dalits and adivasis and the weaker sections of society".
"He raised his voice boldly against the growing atmosphere of fear and intimidation in our country. These issues continue to be of significant relevance irrespective of the electoral verdict of May 2019," it said, in an attack on the Narendra Modi government.
It said that Rahul's gave the Congress "a new sense of aggression and modernity to the party organization and opened up numerous opportunities to the younger generation".
On his resignation, owning up responsibility for the party's poor showing in the elections, it said that it was evidence of Rahul's "instinctive moral compass" setting new standards of accountability in public life".
"The CWC applauds his courage, commitment and conviction in stepping down as Congress President which was a deeply personal decision. Each and every Congressman and woman looks to him for continued support and guidance," the CWC said.