Key leaders of the Congress have stepped down following the example of Vivek Tankha, the Rajya Sabha member who quit the party post to give Rahul Gandhi "a free hand". Two working presidents of the party in Delhi and Telangana and 120 other office bearers across the country have put in their papers. Many of them said they would not withdraw their resignation until Rahul Gandhi promised to stay on as the Congress chief.
The Congress chief -- who has announced his decision to quit from the party post following its disastrous performance in the national election -- had earlier expressed his unhappiness that none of the state leaders had taken responsibility.
At a meeting with Haryana Congress leaders yesterday, Mr Gandhi said he quit "taking full responsibility" for the party's defeat. "I cannot ask others to resign too. It is up to them if they want to take responsibility," he told the leaders.
Last evening, Mr Tankha resigned as the chairman of the party's legal and human rights cell and asked others to follow his example.
"We all should submit our resignations from party positions and give Rahul-ji a free hand to choose his team. I welcome Mr Kamal Nath''s statement to that effect. I unequivocally submit my resignation as AICC Dept chairman Law, RTI and HR. Party cannot afford a stalemate for too long," he said on Twitter.
"Rahul-ji please make drastic changes to revive the party as a fighting force. You have the commitment and determination. Just cobble a good, acceptable and influential nation-wide team. I am with you in all situations," Mr Tankha said.
Taking responsibility for the defeat, Working President of Delhi Congress Committee Rajesh Lilothia and Working President of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee Poonam Prabhakar resigned from their respective posts.
"Many AICC office bearers have also come forward to take responsibility for the poll debacle and resign from their respective posts, responsibility does not end with Congress President Rahul Gandhi alone" said a senior Congress leader.
Mr Gandhi's resignation, announced days after the national poll results, has not been accepted by the party. But he has refused to reconsider despite repeated appeals. A final decision is expected to be taken at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee that's being planned.