Only Rahul Gandhi can challenge BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has sent a message through his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Wednesday, even as he assured all support to new Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge in strengthening the party.
He also extended his best wishes to outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying her resignation is an emotional moment for all party workers and leaders.
Mr Gehlot was among those who accompanied Sonia Gandhi back to her 10, Janpath, residence after Kharge took over from her as the new party chief at the Congress headquarters. He was accompanied by party leaders K C Venugopal, Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Surjewala, and Harish Rawat.
“We wanted that Rahul Gandhi should again become the Congress president as only he can challenge BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Mr Gehlot told reporters.
“His yatra has given a message to the country that there should be politics of love and affection, and the politics of hatred should be put to an end. He has also raised the issues of price rise and unemployment,” he said.
Mr Gehlot said that Kharge assumed charge after it was decided that there should be a non-Gandhi party president. “I feel the challenge is very big and we all will ensure that whatever Sonia Gandhi has decided will be honoured and his hands will be strengthened,” the senior Congress leader said.
It is a new beginning for the Congress at a time when the country is facing big challenges, said Gehlot, who was the frontrunner for the Congress presidential poll nomination but withdrew in the last moment after a power tussle in his own state.
The Rajasthan chief minister noted that the Congress will have to fight with less resources and accept the challenge to take on fascist forces that are killing democracy and throwing the Constitution to the winds.
“Today is a new beginning and we will all help strengthen Kharge ji,” he said, adding that a dalit leader has got this opportunity to lead the Congress and all dalits in the country should feel proud and empowered. Mr Gehlot said this move will help the Congress win their support.
Lauding the role of Sonia Gandhi, he said it is an emotional moment for every Congress member and added that “those people who were against Sonia ji when she entered politics became her admirers”.
“Today the resignation of the Congress president by Sonia Gandhi is an emotional moment for all Congressmen. The guidance of Sonia Gandhi is and will remain invaluable for the party,” Mr Gehlot said.
“In 2004 and 2009, the UPA government was formed at the Centre by defeating the BJP. Sonia ji even renounced the post of prime minister and always ran the Congress like a family. Due to this spirit of sacrifice, affection, and belongingness, the party remained united under her leadership and formed the UPA by forming alliances with many parties,” he said.
The Rajasthan chief minister said in 1998, when Sonia Gandhi took over as the Congress president, the party did not have a government at the Centre and it was facing many challenges in states as well. After Sonia Gandhi became president, the Congress won in all states, he said.
On the Congress presidential poll, Mr Gehlot said, “Electing a new president in a democratic manner is possible only in the Congress and under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi.” Recalling Sonia Gandhi’s contribution to the party, he said she led the party for 22 years, and even then “we had requested her to become the party chief in the interest of the Congress party.” Under her, the Congress formed the UPA government twice at the Centre and governments in 12 states, the Rajasthan chief minister said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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