Senior Congressmen on Wednesday said Rahul Gandhi would continue to be the party’s leader despite officially resigning as party president.

“He left office of party president, he does not cease to be our leader,” ANI quoted Congress leader Salman Khurshid as saying. “Sonia Gandhi is not president anymore but she remains our leader. By way of natural standing they will continue to have admiration, affection and confidence of party workers in them.”

Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora said Gandhi had always made efforts to strengthen the party, reported Times Now. According to reports, Vora may be named interim party president. He told ANI he had no information about the development.

Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said he hoped Gandhi would withdraw his resignation, according to India Today. “We had said this at the Congress Legislative Party meeting, Pradesh Congress Committee meeting, and not just Rajasthan, the entire country urged him to change his mind.”

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said party leaders should rededicate themselves to the values and principles of the party and the Indian Constitution. “The time for renewal is now,” added the parliamentarian from Thiruvananthapuram.

National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah congratulated Gandhi for standing by his decision. “He is young, he can become president again in future,” Abdullah told ANI. “He had always wanted someone else in that position, I cannot say that defeat did this. I think he will now work towards building the party.”

Union minister Prakash Javadekar said unlike the Congress, an organisational structure was already in place in the BJP, PTI reported. “In BJP, the [organisational] election and membership timetable is ready,” he said. “Work has also started. We also have a working president. If nothing is happening in the other party, what can I do?”

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed the resignation “a brand new drama of the grand old party”.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nalin Kohli said his party had no role in Gandhi’s resignation, ANI reported. “It is up to him [Gandhi] whether he continues or resigns,” Kohli said. “There are two types of parties, one like the BJP which is run by democracy, on the other hand you have family driven parties like the Congress. So it is for them to decide, we have no role.”

In his resignation letter, Gandhi said he had no hatred or anger towards the BJP “but every living cell in my body instinctively resists their idea of India”. “I personally fought the prime minister, the RSS and the institutions they have captured with all my being,” he added.