Going To Make Congress 'Grand Old And Young Party', Says Rahul Gandhi In First Speech As President

| December 16 , 2017 , 19:13 IST

Marking the start of a new era, Rahul Gandhi officially became the President of the Congress party on Saturday, as he was passed on the baton from his mother Sonia Gandhi, the outgoing Congress President. Rahul Gandhi had been announced as the next president on December 11 when his nomination for the presidency went unopposed.

Culminating a morning full of celebrations by party workers, Rahul Gandhi was given the official certificate of Congress party presidency on Saturday, which was followed by speeches by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, before Rahul took the podium to make his first address as Congress president.

"It is with deepest humility I accept this position knowing that I will always be walking in the shadows of giants," said Rahul Gandhi.

"In the 13 years I have served in politics, I have had the honour of listening and learning from all of you. Thank you for your lessons and advice. I'm humbled by all the people who have stood here before me," he said.

"Many of us are disillusioned by politics of our time. Today, politics is devoid of kindness and truth. Politics belongs to the people, but today politics is not being used for people. It is not being used to uplift people, but to crush them," Rahul said.

The new Congress president slammed the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well, in his speech.

"Congress took India to 21st century, but the PM, today, is taking us back to the medieval times," he said.

"Congress is an ancient idea. BJP would have you believe they are oldest idea in the universe, as usual this is not the truth. In India, there are 2 ideas that have clashed, idea of self vs the other. BJP are soldiers fighting for self. Congress guided by service of community," said Rahul Gandhi.

"We consider the BJP as our brothers and sisters, but we do not agree with them. They (BJP) crush voices but we allow them to speak, they defame we respect & defend," he added.

"And if there is anyone who can stop what the BJP is doing, it is the 'pyara karyakarta & neta' of Congress. We are going to make Congress, grand old and young party. We will fight the politics of anger," said Rahul.

"You have an example in front of you, once fire breaks out it is difficult to douse it, that is what we are telling the people of BJP, that if you set the nation on fire it will be difficult to control. Today BJP has spread the fire of violence across the country," he said.

"We are now being compelled to imagine that businesses can be built without harmony that only one man himself is the voice of reason. Expertise, experience  and knowledge can be cast aside for personal glory," said Congress president.

 Congratulating Rahul, Sonia Gandhi also addressed the gathering.

"Before I start my address, I congratulate & bless Rahul Ji for taking charge as Congress President," said Sonia.

"Rahul Gandhi's leadership has commenced during the most challenging times. But this will only make him stronger. Today, I will relinquish my responsibility with gratitude," said Sonia Gandhi.

"Rahul is my son, so I do not think for me to praise him is right but I would say that since childhood he had to bear the brunt of violence, after joining politics he had to face blatant personal attacks, that have made him a stronger person," she said.

"Our country's foundation and shared traditions are being attacked, there is an environment of fear," said Sonia.

"Since 2014 we have been playing the role of opposition, the challenge that we face today, is the biggest one, our constitutional values are being attacked, our party has also lost many elections but our party will never bow down," she said.

"Indira Gandhi treated me like her own daughter and I learnt a lot about India from her. In 1984, Indira ji was assassinated and I felt I had lost my mother and that incident changed my life forever. Indira JI passed away, after which Rajiv Ji also passed away, my support was taken away from me and it took me a long while to come to terms with it," said Sonia Gandhi.

Unfortunately, due to loud noise of fireworks, Sonia Gandhi had to interrupt her speech.