The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday once again urged Rahul Gandhi to lead the party at a time when a 'strong opposition voice' was needed, but he declined, saying he was firm on his decision to no longer serve as party president.

The party has now called for wider consultation and will hold a follow-up meeting of the CWC on Saturday night at 8 pm.

The apex decision making body of the Congress met on Saturday morning at the official headquarters at 24, Akbar Road in the national capital. The day saw swift developments with both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi recusing themselves from the process of appointing a new party chief. This was preceded by the CWC dividing itself in five region-based groups which included the names of both the Gandhis.

"The CWC members in the meeting said that the voice of a strong opposition needs to be heard and that (voice) is of Rahul Gandhi. He thanked members of the CWC and party workers for their confidence, but said that his decision to not withdraw his resignation was final. He also added that he would continue to work to take on the might of this government," the Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a media interaction after the meeting.

A week after the Congress' second worst loss in national elections, Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post of party president. For over two months now, the party has been unable to find his successor.

Surjewala made two key points while talking to reporters on Saturday. One, that the CWC will hold another meeting at 8 pm on Saturday night and it will hear the reports of all the five groups and take a decision on the “new president, interim president or any other arrangement".

Second, that Rahul Gandhi's resignation is 'still under consideration' of the CWC and it has not been accepted yet.

“As suggested by Rahul Gandhi, the CWC has decided that a wider consultation is required with leaders of Congress legislative parties (CLPs), secretaries, state unit chiefs and parliamentarians so that a comprehensive view on the next president comes forward," Surjewala added.

All eyes are now on the 8 pm meeting on Saturday where the extended CWC will take the next call. In the past few weeks, there has been growing discontent within the party about how a delay in finding a successor has been hurting the process of revitalising the Congress since its rout.

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