After months of yes and no, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday finally took over as the new President of Congress. He was handed over the certificate of victory at the party headquarters in Delhi and the function was full of loud cheers and celebrations.
The 47-year-old is the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to occupy this post and replaced his mother, Sonia Gandhi, who was in office for 19 years. Speaking soon after taking charge, the newly elected president launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
“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. This ugly violence shames us in the world. Our country, whose philosophy and history is born out of love and compassion, is tarnished by such horror and no amount of hugs can repair the damage done to this great country of ours,” said Mr. Gandhi.
“This vision belongs to a time where people did not have the rights and freedoms that have made our country the profound entity it is — a time when people did not have voice, did not have the right to dissent, to disagree, to differ, to be,” he said.
Calling himself an idealist, Mr. Gandhi said current day politics in India is “devoid of truth and kindness and politics is being used to crush people. Politics belongs to the people, it is their greatest weapon in dismantling the structures that oppress, silence and disempower them. But today, politics is not being used in the service of the people, it is being used to crush them, not to lift them up,” said Mr. Gandhi.
In his speech, Mr. Gandhi invited the youth to join him in building India and promised to make Congress a grand old and young party.
After a bitter campaign in Gujarat, the Congress president attempted to show his idealism when he called BJP members his brothers and sisters.
“We consider the BJP our brothers and sisters, even though we do not agree with them. They want an India free of Congress, they want to erase us but the Congress’s inclusion and respect for all Indians extends even to the BJP. We do not fight hate with hate.”
Before Mr. Gandhi spoke, outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed her party members for the last time as the party president.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh saluted the outgoing President’s leadership and told Mr. Gandhi, “May your path be blessed.”