Rahul Gandhi today took charge as the president of Congress in the presence of the 132-year-old party’s top brass and his family members.
The Congress’ central election authority (CEA) handed him over the certificate of his elevation to the top post during a grand event held at the lawns of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here. 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi was handed over the certificate in the presence of his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.
While handing over the certificate, CEA chairman Mullappally Ramachandran termed the moment as “historic”. There was chaos outside the AICC headquarters where the Congress workers gathered in large numbers for the event, making it difficult even for the senior party leaders to enter the venue.
Meanwhile, parts of Lutyens’ Delhi were dotted with posters hailing Rahul Gandhi’s ascension with some of them describing the development as the beginning of a New India. Rahul Gandhi succeeds Sonia Gandhi, who led the party for the last 19 years.
Rahul Gandhi entered electoral politics in 2004. He was appointed as the party general secretary in 2007 and was elevated as its vice president in January 2013.
Rahul took over the reigns from his mother Sonia, 71, who has led the party for 19 long years. She said Friday it was time for her to retire, though the party clarified that she had retired from the party chief’s role and not from politics.
The 47-year-old Rahul’s appointment comes two days ahead of the assembly election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, where he led the party’s high-profile campaign. Rahul’s main challenge remains the revamping of party organisation, apart from electoral battles in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
At the ceremony for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to Congress president, Sonia Gandhi congratulated Rahul on his new position, even as she recalled her own elevation to party chief. Sonia also stressed that Rahul’s childhood and political career had “made him a stronger person.”
Her “last speech as Congress president” was marked with nostalgia, and the mention of her mother-in-law and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“Indira Gandhi treated me like her own daughter and I learnt a lot about India from her,” she said.
“When I felt the party is becoming weak, that the country is falling into the hands of communal forces, I had to listen to the demands of political workers. To honour the sacrifices of Indira and Rajiv, I entered politics,” she added.
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