Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Monday said that the party cannot afford to let Rahul Gandhi quit as its president. He said that it is “very difficult, if not impossible, to replace him”, PTI reported.

Gandhi had offered to resign from the party’s top post on May 25 after the Congress party’s major setback in the Lok Sabha elections, in which it secured only 52 out of 543 Parliamentary seats. However, the Congress Working Committee had unanimously rejected the resignation.

Khurshid said that it was important for the Congress party to have Gandhi at the helm. “I think there is a lot more to the structure of the party,” he said. “Let us call it inherent and historical that his presence in control is imperative.”

He also said that Gandhi continuing as the party president was the only way forward. “The Congress cannot afford to let Rahul go,” Khurshid said. “He [Rahul Gandhi] is firm on not reconsidering his decision [to] quit the post, though he had said he is going to be around to fight the battle.”

On Saturday, at the Congress Parliamentary meeting, Gandhi had said that the party’s 52 Lok Sabha MPs were strong to “make BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] jump every day”. He had asked his party members to remember that they were fighting for the Constitution and for every person in India.

Khurshid further added that he respects the Gandhi family’s wishes, but hopes that the Congress chief also respects “how all the workers and followers feel”. “We understand the decision must be difficult for him, but I would certainly appeal that he stays and we find solutions to all our problems,” he said.