Sonia Gandhi will continue as the party president, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) said in a statement on Sunday, 13 March.
"The CWC unanimously reaffirmes its faith in the leadership of Smt Sonia Gandhi and requests the Congress President to lead from the front, address the organisational weaknesses, effect necessary & comprehensive organisational changes in order to take on the political challenges," the CWC said in a statement issued after the four-and-half-hour-long meeting.
The meeting, held at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office in Delhi to discuss the poll debacle in five states and the current political situation, was chaired by the party's interim president Sonia Gandhi.
"She (Sonia Gandhi) continues to be the president of the party. A detailed discussion was held about the five-state elections. We discussed how to take things forward and how we prepare for the forthcoming elections," All India Congress Committee Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao was quoted as saying by ANI.
A total of 57 leaders were said to have attended the meet.
"Congress interim president Sonia will lead us and will take future steps. We all have faith in her leadership," Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Meanwhile, PTI quoted AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal as saying:
"CWC unanimously reaffirms faith in leadership of Congress President Sonia Gandhi."
"Congress to hold Chintan Shivir immediately after Budget Session of Parliament. CWC to meet again before that. Congress president to immediately take up corrective measures to revamp, re-strengthen organisation," he added.
Earlier, news agency ANI reported that former PM Manmohan Singh and three other Congress leaders didn't attend the meeting. Congress leader AK Antony, too, skipped the meeting as he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The CWC meet announcement comes two days after the 2022 Assembly election results where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won four states and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won one.
Prior to the CWC meeting, Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of the party's parliamentary strategy group at 10:30 am on Sunday to discuss the strategy for the Budget Session of the Parliament, which resumes on Monday.
The meet, held at Sonia Gandhi's house, was attended by Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, K Suresh, and Jairam Ramesh, according to NDTV.
The Congress party suffered a massive rout in the five-state Assembly elections, which has once again revived criticism of the Gandhi family and calls for a leadership change.
Three members from the 'G-23' (the group of 23 Congress 'dissenters' who had written to Sonia Gandhi two years ago) – Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Mukul Wasnik – are a part of the CWC.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Vivek Tankha took to social media on Sunday and asked the CWC to rebuild the idea of India once again.
"Time to think! Not what the party do for you, but what you can do for the party. Appeal to CWC, re build the idea of India once again. We have talent and reach. What we need is a collective endeavour. Let's do it. We can do it."
Rahul Gandhi Should Become Party President: Ashok Gehlot
Later on Sunday afternoon, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said Rahul Gandhi should become the party president.
"For the last three decades, nobody from the Gandhi family became a PM or a minister. It is significant to understand that the Gandhi family is important for Congress' unity," Gehlot was quoted as saying by ANI.
Gehlot blamed "internal conflict" for Congress' dismal loss in Punjab.
"In 2017, Congress was united & we won. After Channi became the CM the environment was conducive too but it was our mistake that due to internal conflict we lost Assembly elections in Punjab."
He also termed BJP's politics of polarisation 'easy.'
"Politics of polarisation is easier. BJP propagated Congress as a Muslim party on social media. Our way is to maintain integrity & unity of the country. During polls, religion comes to forefront while issues of inflation & jobs take a back seat for BJP."
Meanwhile, Youth Congress chief Srinivas BV called the Gandhi family a thread that "binds together not only Congress but all sections of country," reported PTI.
How Did Congress Perform?
The Congress not only failed to mount a challenge in the states where it was challenging the BJP, it also suffered a crushing defeat in Punjab to the AAP, despite ruling the state for the last five years.
In Punjab, the Congress' chief ministerial candidate, Charanjit Singh Channi, who had taken over as CM of the state last year, failed to win in either of the two seats he stood from, Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.
The party meanwhile won only in 18 seats in the 117-seat Punjab Assembly, down from 77 in 2017.
In Uttarakhand, where it was expected to be a close race between the party and the incumbent BJP government, the Congress has only secured 19 seats, with the BJP winning 47 out of 70 assembly seats. The Congress CM face in Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat, has also failed to win his seat.
In Goa too, the Congress fell far short of the majority mark in the 40-seat Assembly, winning in only 11. Here also, the Congress has lost seats, after being the single-largest party in 2017 with 17 seats.
In Manipur, where the Congress had been in power till 2017, the party saw itself reduced to five seats.
In Uttar Pradesh, the party has found itself relegated to irrelevancy, winning only two seats while the BJP stormed back to power with 255 seats in 403-strong Assembly.
Will Learn From This, Tweets Rahul Gandhi
On Thursday, as the dust settled on the results of the 2022 Assembly elections in five states, Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the party has accepted the people's verdict.
"Humbly accept the people’s verdict. Best wishes to those who have won the mandate. My gratitude to all Congress workers and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India," he wrote on Twitter.
This was followed by Priyanka Gandhi's tweet where she said that their workers and leaders worked hard and fought for people's issues. However, they could not convert their hard work into votes, she said.
(With inputs from ANI and NDTV.)