New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Saturday formally became the Congress President taking the baton from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Rahul was presented with a certificate that formally names him as the new Congress President. From here on, he is officially the top boss of the Congress party.
In his maiden speech as the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi said, "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 and defend."
Rahul Gandhi said that politics belongs to the people, but today it is not being used for people. "It is not being used to uplift people, but to crush them," the 47-year-old Congress president said.
"Many of us are disillusioned by politics of our time. Today, politics is devoid of kindness and truth," the newly-sworn Congress president said.
Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, "Congress took India to 21st century, but the PM, today, is taking us back to the medieval times."
Intensifying his attack on BJP, Rahul said, "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."
"And if there is anyone who can stop what the BJP is doing, it is the 'pyara karyakarta and neta' of Congress. We are going to make Congress, grand old and young party. We will fight the politics of anger," the Congress president said.
“Congress is an ancient idea. BJP would have you believe they are the oldest idea in the universe, as usual this is not the truth. In India, there are two ideas that have clashed, idea of self vs the other. BJP are soldiers fighting for self. Congress guided by service of community,” Rahul said.
The newly-elected Congress chief said, “It is with deepest humility, that I accept this position (of Congress President) knowing that I will always be walking in the shadow of giants.”
Rahul Gandhi ended his speech saying, "Thanks mother Sonia Gandhi for being a guiding force."
Handing over the charge of the party to her son and congratulating and blessing Rahul, Sonia Gandhi said, "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."
"When I realised the Congress party is getting weaker after my husband's death, then I had to listen to my party's 'cheekh' (voice)," Sonia Gandhi said in her last speech as the Congress leader.
Sonia Gandhi thanked her mother in-law and the former prime minister of the country Indira Gandhi and said, "I was introduced to politics for the first time after marrying Rajiv Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was a big support."
Praising the Gandhi family Sonia said, "This family has done so much for the country. They have given their lives for the country."
"Indira Gandhi took me into the family as her daughter and supported me at every stage. When she was assassinated in 1984, I felt like my mother was taken from me," the former Congress chief added.
Sonia said, "A great responsibility suddenly came upon my husband Rajiv Gandhi, with whom, I remember travelling the length and breadth of India. India had many challenges at that time, which Rajiv Gandhi handled with you all to steer India to what we see today. I salute Indira and Rajiv Gandhi for their invaluable contribution to India."
Addressing the event, former prime minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh said, "I am sure the party will scale new heights of glory."
"Rahul taking over as president when there are certain disturbing trends noticeable in politics. As a distinguished academic pointed out that there are dangers that politics of fear will take over politics of hope, Rahulji, we depend upon you to transform and sustain politics of hope," Singh added.
Now that Soniaji is handing over reins of the party to Rahulji we salute Soniaji for uniting the leadership, something that she has been doing since 19 years. Rahulji brings a new sense of dedication and commitment (as party president)," Manmohan Singh said.
Rahul Gandhi was handed over the certificate of his elevation by the Congress' central election authority (CEA) at an event held at the lawns of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in the national capital.
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 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.
With inputs from PTI....