The Nehru-Gandhi family is the largest vote-getter for the Congress, senior party leader Salman Khurshid said Monday and claimed that leadership change in tough times for the organisation will be "silly and ungrateful".
The former External Affairs Minister also said it would be a long haul for the party-- may be even ten years-- to recover from the disastrous performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Khurshid said it's a fact that the Nehru-Gandhi family is the binding force for the party-- when it was leading from the front and also when it had taken a back seat.
"Just as it's a fact that (Narendra) Modi gets the kind of support that he has got despite all the flaws that we had highlighted, similarly it's a fact that they (Nehru-Gandhi family) keep us together and it's fact that they are the largest vote-getters", he told PTI in an interview.
"Now, they may not have got us enough votes to win this election, (but) they are the largest vote getters for the party," Mr Khurshid added.
His comments came amid reports that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is firm on his offer to quit as the party chief following the party's poll debacle and also not wanting any other member of the Gandhi family to succeed him, virtually ruling out his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as his replacement.
Mr Khurshid agreed that the party had expectations from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who entered active politics before the elections and campaigned extensively in Uttar Pradesh, as the in-charge of the state's eastern region.
"Nobody is saying she can't contribute, she didn't contribute etc...nobody is saying that. Expectations remain. Please see the resilience of party's support for Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi that despite the successive drubbing, that support remains; that's not a small thing," he said.
There is a special thing that the Nehru-Gandhi family has with the Congress workers like PM Modi has with the BJP workers, he said.
"...Now Modi has it on a larger scale today and they (the family) may have on a lesser scale today but whatever we have is umpteen times more than any possible Congress leader has today," Mr Khurshid said.
The Congress leader said that all party workers including him stand by the Nehru-Gandhi family.
"Now, I am not being pessimistic and doomsdayer because tomorrow if there is another situation, there is another leader, we (the Congress) may grow. I am talking about today. Congress workers stands by them (the family), and I include myself in that Congress worker," he said.
"We can't be so silly and ungrateful that in good times, we were with them but in tough times, we will say... we have to look for someone else, that's not my attitude no matter what Rahul Gandhi has said or is wanting."
Mr Khurshid said though Rahul Gandhi's view should be respected, party workers' support to him was independent of what he thought of his own role.
"Our support is unqualified, it will continue. We may succeed or we may fail but it will continue," he said.
On what needs to be done to revive Congress'' fortunes, Mr Khurshid said "off-the-cuff, quick solutions" will be waste of time and what is required is "deep thinking, deep exercises".
"May be it requires ten years... can't be done around in two years. If we have ruled this country for such a long time, and they (BJP) struggled for that much time, then we should be willing to struggle for that much time ourselves. That's the simplest answer that I have," he said.
"It's a long haul. Long haul means immediate haul is five years. My view is it may be longer than five years, and as we go along in these five years, we will see whether we can cut short that duration, that we can speed up our recovery. Recovery comes only by hard-work," Mr Khurshid added.