Congress president Rahul Gandhi
Newly elect Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed the gathering of elite and top level leaders of the Congress party.
Mr. Gandhi, 47, who had taken over as the party vice-president in January 2013, was elected unopposed as the party president on December 11.
In a major power shift, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took charge as Congress president from his mother Sonia Gandhi amid celebrations and cheering by scores of party workers.
The 47-year-old was handed over the certificate of his election as Congress president at a grand ceremony on the AICC lawns, in the presence of party leaders from all generations.
The handing over of the certificate by Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the Central Election Authority of the Congress, brought the curtains down on the 19-year tenure of Sonia Gandhi, which saw the Congress emerge from virtual obscurity to go on to dizzying heights.
Rahul is the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to become the Congress president.
As he took charge, Congress president Rahul Gandhi declared an all-out war on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP and vowed to bring people back to the Congress.
“Like many Indians across the country, I am an idealist,” begins Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “But many of us are disillusioned today with what we see in politics today. It is devoid of kindness and truth. Today politics is used to crush people, not lift them. Politics belongs to the people.
“The Congress took India into the 21st century, while the prime minister today is taking us backwards, to a medieval past where people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he said at the function, which was also attended by his sister Priyanka Vadra.
Rahul described himself as an “idealist” who was anguished to see politics being used “not to serve people but to crush them”.
“We, in the Congress, will never back down and away from our promise to our country and our beloved people. Our commitment to India’s past, its present and its future will stand today and evermore,” Rahul said.
“Congress is an ancient idea. BJP would like you to believe their idea is the oldest, this is not true. We consider the BJP our brothers and sisters, though we don’t agree with them. We do not fight hate with hate. They crush voices, but we allow the most vulnerable to sing. Congress has always and will always meet any challenge with love and affection. It is with utmost humility that I accept this position.” he said.
In her farewell address, Sonia described Rahul as a “brave and stout-hearted man”, who had borne the experience of violence and confronted savage personal attacks ever since he entered politics.
“I am confident that with a new and young leadership, our party will be reinvigorated and bring about the changes we need. You have chosen Rahul as your leader, I am proud of his endurance and firmness and I am confident he will lead the party with a pure heart, patience and devotion,” Sonia said.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said Rahul was taking over as Congress President at a time when “certain disturbing trends” were noticeable in politics.
“Rahulji, we depend upon you to ensure that the politics of fear does not prevail over the politics of hope,” Singh said.
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