Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, leaders of India's defeated Congress party, offered to resign on Monday after last week's election debacle, but colleagues rejected their gesture, a senior party figure has said.

"They both offered to resign but the party rejected it unanimously," Member of Parliament, Amarinder Singh, told reporters after a meeting of the Congress's top committee in New Delhi.

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Local Press Trust of India news agency reported that the Congress Working Committee passed a unanimous resolution "expressing full faith in the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi".

About a dozen supporters gathered outside the party's Delhi headquarters, shouting slogans - "Rahul-ji, continue to struggle, we are with you" - during the 150-minute-long meeting.

The mother and son, members of South Asia's most famous political dynasty, are facing unprecedented pressure from grassroots party workers and defeated former member of parliaments over their failed campaign tactics.

Congress party slumped to its worst poll result ever last Friday, winning just 44 seats in the 543-member parliament - less than a quarter of its tally in 2009 - as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power with a landslide win.

Sonia, the 67-year-old Congress president, entrusted campaigning to vice president Rahul, whose lacklustre performance failed to convince voters that the party deserved a third term in power.

The defeat has raised questions over whether the dynasty can retain its grip over the left-leaning party which has produced three prime ministers and has run India for most of its post-independence history.

Source: AFP