The Congress failed to gauge the public anger against it, party president Sonia Gandhi admitted at a meeting of party MPs from both Houses of Parliament that re-elected her chairperson of the Parliamentary Party on Saturday.
There was no word on who would be the leaders and deputy leaders of the party in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, but party sources said Ms. Gandhi is likely to lead the party in the lower House.
With only 44 members — down from 206 in 2009 — the Congress presence in the 16th Lok Sabha is the lowest ever.
Several party leaders, in moves widely construed as oblique attacks on the top leaders, have blamed their advisers for the party’s dismal show.
Even as voices of dissent have been growing over the past few days, the Parliamentary Party passed a resolution that paid a tribute to Ms. Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi “for their indefatigable election campaigns across the country.”
Mallikarjun Kharge, who has been re-elected to the Lok Sabha from Karnataka, proposed Ms. Gandhi’s name as CPP chairperson. Rajya Sabha member Mohsina Kidwai and others seconded it.
The CPP resolution also expressed the hope “that all progressive and secular forces in Parliament will coordinate their strategies effectively so as to present a united and cohesive Opposition which is the lifeblood of any democracy,” offering cooperation to like-minded parties in this regard.
With the Congress not even winning 10 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha, the party may not be entitled to the Leader of Opposition post, unless the new Speaker is willing to recognise the pre-poll alliance of the United Progressive Alliance as a single unit, party sources said.
In her speech at the meeting, Ms. Gandhi said: “The Congress has lost this time but this is not the first time; we have earlier also come back after losses … We all should sit together and fight together.”