rahul gandhi
Congress vice president Rahul GandhiReuters

Having been scheduled to return to the national capital on Tuesday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has extended his 'leave of absence' and will now return only by the end of the week, according to sources.

The Congress had announced last month when it expected Rahul Gandhi back, but did not share any information of his whereabouts. The party leaders said he was "abroad for introspection and soul searching before starting a new journey in his life."

They were also adamant that he was "not quitting politics," reports NDTV.

Meanwhile Sonia Gandhi, who will be 'succeeded' by Rahul Gandhi as party president in April, refused to comment on reports that her son had left the country in a huff. There was speculation that Mr Gandhi was frustrated at not being able to restructure the party.

In another blow to Rahul Gandhi, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by him which sought to cancel a complaint against the Congress vice-president in a case of alleged hate speech against RSS.

The defamation case was filed by RSS member Rajesh Kunte and Mr Gandhi had earlier managed to get the High Court's reprieve of not personally appearing in the defamation case, reports The Indian Express.

However this time around, Justice M L Tahaliyani refused to grant exemption saying it was the prerogative of the Magistrate court.

"Make application for exemption before the Magistrate. It is not proper for me to say something at this stage," said Justice Tahaliyani, while clarifying the fact that relief was given during the pendency of the petition.