NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi today formally took charge as chief of the Congress party today, from his mother Sonia Gandhi who had helmed the country's oldest party for 19 years, in a ceremony held at the party's 24 Akbar Road headquarters here. He is the fifth Congress president from the Nehru-Gandhi family and the 16th president of the party, that has ruled the country for much of its independent history. READ |
The ceremony was attended by party stalwarts, his mother and outgoing Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and other party leaders.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi and brother-in-law Robert Vadra were also present on the occasion.
He was given the certificate of Congress president by Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, who oversaw the organisational polls.
His mother Sonia Gandhi on Friday announced that it was time for her to retire, triggering immediate speculation about her future plans. The Congress party sought to quell it saying she has only retired from the party chief's role and not from politics. [ALSO READ: What are the challenges before Rahul?]
Here are all the latest UPDATES:
12: 20 pm - Wishes keep pouring in from senior politicians from across the country. Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda, Karnataka Congress leader KJ George and more.
राहुल जी को भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस का अध्यक्ष निर्वाचित किये जाने पर हरियाणा के समस्त कांग्रेसजन की ओर से शुभकामनाएं। हमें पूर्ण विश्वास है कि उनके नेतृत्व में कांग्रेस पार्टी को मजबूती मिलेगी और कांग्रेस देश को फिर प्रगति पथ पर आगे ले जायेगी। #CongressPresidentRahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/2s3SlHIn0f— Bhupinder S Hooda (@BhupinderSHooda) 11 December 2017
Best wishes to @OfficeOfRG as he takes charge of @INCIndia today. May this revolutionary journey under your promising Leadership could rewrite the destiny of India in Golden Ink. #CongressPresidentRahulGandhi#ThankYouSoniaGandhi ji for your dedicated service to the Nation.— KJ George (@thekjgeorge) 16 December 2017
12: 15 pm - Rahul, wearing a long flowing white kurta, smiled and waved from the dais adorned with posters of his late grandmother and father, former prime ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. Slogans of "long live Rahul" were shouted as hundreds of supporters danced to drum beats and burst firecrackers.
12:12 pm -
12: 10 pm -
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,thr are 2 ideas that hv clashed, idea of self vs the other.BJP are soldiers fighting for self. Congress guided by service of community:Rahul Gandhi pic.twitter.com/AI3jiCWiAs— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
12: 05 pm-
12:00 pm -
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 pic.twitter.com/GCZJjBpl13— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:58 am -
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: Rahul Gandhi pic.twitter.com/CPA5sut5MT— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:50 am -
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: Rahul Gandhi pic.twitter.com/9eXYhhRT8U— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:45 am - 'Vo todhte hai, hum jodte hai (they break, we join)", says Rahul Gandhi in his first speech as Congress chief, referring to the BJP.
11: 43 am -
11:42 am - Congratulating Rahul Gandhi on his elevation, she said personal attacks on her son have made him fearless and voiced confidence that the young leadership will infuse new vigour in the party. "I am sure he will lead the party with courage and dedication," 71-year-old 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: Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/0B1XzHvp6g— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:40 am - "Congress should introspect and move forward and stand by its values.... It is a moral battle, we have to set our house in order and be ready for the fight and to make any sacrifice," she said.
Our country's foundation & shared traditions are being attacked, there is an environment of fear: Sonia Gandhi at AICC pic.twitter.com/AaBXEuGAUm— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:35 am - "In 1984, Indiraji was assassinated and I felt I had lost my mother and that incident changed my life forever", says Sonia Gandhi. She also talked about the time when was reluctant to join politics following the assassination of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and husband Rajiv Gandhi.
11: 30 am - Sonia Gandhi resumes her speech.
Indira Gandhi treated me like her own daughter & I learnt a lot about India from her: Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/vgDUuFu4DR— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11: 20 am - Sonia Gandhi's speech is interrupted by the sound of crackers and celebrations of party workers. She pauses her speech.
11: 17 am -
Before I start my address, I congratulate & bless Rahul Ji for taking charge as Congress President: Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/eE6uoDaFUn— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11:15 am - Former PM Manmohan Singh delivers a speech. He says, "I'm sure the party will scale new heights of glory."
Rahulji taking ovr as pres whn there are certain disturbing trends noticeable in politics.As a distinguished academic pointd out that thr are dangers tht politics of fear will tk ovr politics of hope,Rahul ji,we depend upon you to transform&sustain politics of hope:Manmohan Singh pic.twitter.com/1u4h28or1w— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
11: 10 am -
As we officially welcome Congress President Rahul Gandhi into his role, we look back on his character-defining moments, and look forward to his continued compassionate, integrity-fuelled leadership. #CongressPresidentRahulGandhi #ThankYouSoniaGandhi pic.twitter.com/YylvZdwG1J— Congress (@INCIndia) 16 December 2017
11 am - Rahul Gandhi is the new President of the grand old party. The Central Election Authority Mullapally Ramachandran handed over the Certificate of Election to him. [READ HERE | A look back at Rahul's journey)
10: 45 am -
10: 30 am -
10 am -
Delhi: Congress workers march from Rail Bhavan to All India Congress Committee office at 24, Akbar Road ahead of Rahul Gandhi's takeover as the President of Congress Party. pic.twitter.com/JJVDArmmbS— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
9:45 am -
To our longest-serving president Smt. Sonia Gandhi, who worked relentlessly for the ideals of the Congress Party, & through it for the country; we express our utmost gratitude. A guiding light you will always be. #ThankYouSoniaGandhi #CongressPresidentRahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/4dgnanKeUT— Congress (@INCIndia) 16 December 2017
9: 30 am -
Delhi: Dance being performed as supporters gather outside Rahul Gandhi's residence 12, Tughlak Lane, ahead of his takeover as Congress President. pic.twitter.com/LLqsJGda6V— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
9 am -
Posters & hoardings put up in area around AICC HQ in Delhi, Rahul Gandhi will take charge as Congress President, today. pic.twitter.com/Mdp7zQOZl7— ANI (@ANI) 16 December 2017
The 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi formally takes over the reins of the grand old party two days before the counting of votes for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, the outcome of which could be a trendsetter ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Gandhi had been the party Vice President for over four years since 2013.
Rahul's main challenge remains the revamping of party organisation, apart from electoral battles in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
(With inputs from ANI, IANS and AFP)