Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Sunday that a “non-Gandhi” can lead the party but the Gandhi family must remain active within the organisation, PTI reported. His comments came amid uncertainty over the next party president as Rahul Gandhi stuck to his decision to quit the post after the Congress’ washout in the General Elections.

“I am sure we can survive if we have to without a Nehru-Gandhi as the titular head of the party, provided the Nehru-Gandhis remain active in the party and can help resolve a crisis in case serious differences arise,” Aiyar told PTI in an interview.

Asked if the party’s top leadership needs to be changed, Aiyar said: “If you simply cut off the head then the chicken may start fluttering as it does in the animal kingdom.”

The 78-year-old leader asked the media to wait for the party to find Gandhi’s successor instead of speculating. “I do not think it is a matter of personalities. I know it is the objective of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] to have a Gandhi-mukt Congress so as to have a Congress-mukt Bharat,” he added. “I do not think we should be falling into the trap of thinking that they have discovered something that we are not able to discover.”

Aiyar spoke of several instances from the party’s history when people from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family were appointed presidents. The same model could be adopted now, he said.

“Since we know that Mrs [Sonia] Gandhi is the head of the parliamentary party and Mr [Rahul] Gandhi is part and parcel of our parliamentary party, I have every confidence that whether with Mr Rahul Gandhi at the helm or somebody else, the party will fight back and resume in the fullness of time its position as the natural leader of what I call the Idea of India movement,” Aiyar added.

Last week, Rahul Gandhi told NDTV that he was not involved in the selection of the new Congress president. However, he added that he would continue working for the party. “I am not getting involved in that process [of selecting a new president],” Gandhi had said. “I do not think that will be correct for me. That will complicate matters.”