On Wednesday, when Congress’ interim president officially absolved herself of the responsibility, with veteran Mallikarjun Kharge taking over, Sonia Gandhi acknowledged that she is “feeling a sigh of relief”.
The toll of leading a struggling party has taken its toll on Sonia Gandhi, who herself is battling flailing health. On Wednesday, when Congress’ interim president officially absolved herself of the responsibility, with veteran Mallikarjun Kharge taking over, Sonia Gandhi acknowledged that she is “feeling a sigh of relief”.
Addressing the party leaders in New Delhi on the occasion of Kharge officially becoming the first non-Gandhi Congress president, Sonia Gandhi said, “I congratulate the new Congress president, Mallikarjun Kharge. I am very happy, I am feeling a sigh of relief. And I have full faith that Khargeji will inspire the entire party, get a message, and Congress will be strengthened under his leadership.”
“I am very happy that the president, whom you have chosen at your own discretion, is an experienced leader, a leader connected to the earth, who has reached this height from an ordinary worker with his hard work and dedication,” she added.
Explaining her remarks about feeling a sigh of relief, the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli said, “I want to clarify that I am feeling a sigh of relief because the respect and love which you people have showered on me is a matter of pride. And I will remember it till my last breath.”
“But respect was a big responsibility, and I did whatever I could do. Today I will be free of the duties and will take relief from the pressure,” she said, giving ample hints about the amount of pressure she had to endure.
Gandhi also said that the responsibility now falls on Kharge, who was given the certificate of party president by Congress Central Election Authority (CEA) chairman Madhusudan Mistry in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary KC Venugopal and several other senior leaders.
“Change is the rule. And today, our party faces a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge is that the democratic values of the country are facing a big threat and how we need to fight that,” Sonia Gandhi said.
“The way in which you have elected a new chief, I believe that in the same way, all the leaders and workers will become a force that will fight against the challenges that the country is facing,” she added.
Sonia Gandhi also said that Congress has earlier faced several challenges and it has “never conceded defeat” and that we will have to again walk forward and fight.
Speaking on the occasion, Kharge vowed to fight the “lies and falsehoods” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I am feeling emotional and this is an emotional moment for me. I want to thank the Congress people for making a worker’s son, an ordinary worker, president of the party,” Kharge, who hails from Karnataka, addressing the party leaders, said.
Speaking about Congress’ glorious past, Kharge said that it is a matter of pride for him to be the president of the party that was helmed by the likes of
Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
“The contribution of the Congress party in the making of modern India is unmatched. Ambedkar has contributed to the making of the constitution of this country. We have to fight to protect the constitution of this country,” Kharge also pointed out.
Highlighting the contribution of Sonia Gandhi to the party, Kharge said, “You (Sonia Gandhi) have been an example of sacrifice. Under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership, we formed a government twice at the centre and several laws were brought for the people, like MGNREGA, RTI, National Food Security Act and several others.”
He also asserted that to “implement the blueprint of the Udaipur Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir is our motto”.
Taking a potshot at the BJP, Kharge said that no one would have imagined that in politics only lies would be there. “We will break the cycle of lies, falsehood and hatred. Congress ideology is a matter of faith and people believe in that,” he said.
Kharge continued his criticism of the BJP, saying, “BJP talks about an opposition-free country and talks about a new India. But what kind of new India is it where the youths are asking for jobs, farmers are mowed down, and airports, public sectors, railways and many others are being sold or privatised? While everything is getting costly, the rupee is falling continuously.”
“The ED, IT and other agencies are working 24 hours to suppress the voice. In the new India, the government is sleeping but the CBI, ED, and IT are working 24 hours. In the new India, Nathuram Godse is called a patriot and Mahatma Gandhi is an anti-national. They want to bring in the constitution of RSS,” he alleged.
Soon after Kharge took charge as the new party chief, all CWC members, AICC general secretaries and in-charges tendered their resignation.