The political obituary of former Indian prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao is being readied following his resignation as Congress (I) Party chief for alleged involvement in a bribery scandal. Ever since Rao led the party to its worst-ever electoral defeat in May's general election, he has been under pressure to resign for his alleged involvement in a variety of bribery and corruption cases. But although he abdicated his presidency of the party at the weekend, he will continue as its leader in Parliament, giving him a strong bargaining position with the United Front coalition of which Congress (I) is an integral part. Congress insiders said yesterday Rao would try to trade off party support to Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda's coalition in return for immunity from prosecution. The immediate fallout of Rao's resignation, however, would be deciding on a successor. The leadership issue is expected to be decided today between three contenders - A. K. Anthony, former chief minister of the southern state of Kerala, Congress party treasurer Sita Ram Kesri and former foreign minister Pranab Mukerjee. Congress MPs believe Mr Anthony stands the best chance. They said his clean image and low profile in a party overburdened with financial and corruption scandals would go some way towards restoring its credibility. Congress MPs blamed Rao, 74, for presiding over the failure of their 111-year-old party. They said he was an intriguer who kept a tight reign over the party via skilful manipulation, but failed to lead from the front.