Rahul Gandhi on Saturday offered to resign as the party president but the Congress Working Committee unanimously rejected it and requested him to continue his leadership, the party announced.

The CWC held a meeting at the party’s headquarters in Delhi earlier in the day and passed a resolution to “humbly accept” the Lok Sabha election verdict. The party managed to win only 52 seats in the elections, compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which alone won 303 seats.

“The CWC unanimously called upon the Congress President, Shri Rahul Gandhi to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of India’s youth, the farmers, the SC/ST/OBC’s, the Minorities, the poor and the deprived sections,” the CWC said in its resolution.

The working committee asked Gandhi for a complete overhaul and a detailed restructuring at every level of the party. “Congress party has lost the election but our indomitable courage, our fighting spirit and commitment to our ideology remains stronger than ever. We shall continue its fight against forces that thrive on hatred and division,” it said.

Senior party leaders addressed a press conference after the working committee’s meeting. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the working committee deliberated on different matters and called upon Gandhi for thorough introspection of the election results.

Senior party leader AK Antony said he believed that the Congress’ performance was not a disastrous one. “I don’t agree that it was a disastrous performance, but we were not able to rise up to the expectations,” Antony told reporters. “The party will discuss this in details. Today we had only general discussions”.

Ghulam Nabi Azad said he does not doubt Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. “In a democracy winning or losing keep happening but providing leadership is a different matter,” Azad said. “He gave a leadership, one which is visible – maybe less on TV but very evident among public. We have accepted our defeat but it was a defeat of numbers and not ideology.”

“If someone can lead the party in such situation, it’s only Rahul Gandhi. If anyone can lead opposition, it’s only Rahul Gandhi,” Azad added.