The Congress on Sunday said that Sonia Gandhi will continue as the interim president of the party till a procedure was implemented to elect her successor, PTI reported.

Gandhi completes a year as the interim chief on Monday. She took over as the party chief after her son Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post in July as he held himself accountable for the party’s Lok Sabha election debacle and maintained that accountability would be critical for the party’s future growth. The Congress managed to win only 52 of 543 parliamentary seats in the General Elections in May last year.

At an online press conference on Sunday, Rajya Sabha MP and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the party was committed to follow the election procedure laid down in the Constitution. “Sonia Gandhi is the president, she will continue till such time as a proper procedure is implemented and it will be implemented in the not too distant future,” he said.

The Congress leader added that neither nature nor political parties can tolerate a vacuum. “In the meanwhile, if anyone is suggesting that the Congress will become headless at the stroke of midnight on August 10, is that a fair interpretation,” he asked. “Nobody can suggest that. No point giving simple views as they have to be in accord with common sense.”

Singhvi said the party’s future course of action will be shared soon.

Meanwhile, the party has maintained that electing a new president has not been possible due to the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the infection, according to Hindustan Times. “Soon after her appointment, there were Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana in October-November last year followed by polls in Jharkhand and Delhi,” a Congress functionary told the newspaper. “Then the Covid-19 struck.”

Reports said the party will have to officially inform the Election Commission of India about Gandhi’s tenure extension and subsequently get it endorsed by the Congress Working Committee.

Shashi Tharoor calls for election

Earlier in the day, Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor said the process of finding a new full-time party president had to be sped up amid the public perception that it was “adrift and rudderless”.

“I certainly believe we should be clear about our leadership going forward,” Tharoor told PTI. “I welcomed Sonia ji’s appointment as interim president last year, but I do believe it’s unfair to her to expect her to carry this burden indefinitely.”

He called for holding an election to choose the next successor, adding that it would “certainly have a number of beneficial outcomes for the party”.