NEW DELHI: Fresh yellow motichur laddoos vanished in a jiffy from the paper cartons that Delhi Congress leader Jai Prakash brought to 24, Akbar Road on Saturday morning. At the Congress party’s national headquarters, the mood was festive even though the crowds assembled for the chronicle of a coronation foretold.
Dancers from Rajasthan swayed to drumbeats as thousands converged at the venue to watch a clean-shaven Rahul Gandhi don the mantle of party chief.
Party managers worried if they would be able to manage the crowds. In the event, the Delhi Police, which manned the two traffic roundabouts full of banners and flags congratulating Rahul, permitted only pedestrians. Veterans S Jaipal Reddy and Meira Kumar were among senior leaders who could not enter the venue despite being invited.
Rahul put his agenda upfront. “The Congress took India to the 21st century, but the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is taking us backwards, to medieval times, where people are being butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he said in his acceptance speech.
“Today, the BJP people are trying to spread fire and violence in the entire country and only the force of lovable Congress workers and leaders can stop them. They break, we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it.
They get angry, we love. This is the difference between them and us,” he said.
Rahul’s sister Priyanka sat in a separate enclosure with husband Robert Vadra and party workers from Amethi and Rae Bareli, the Nehru-Gandhi family bastions as an emotional Sonia recalled how she was married into the Gandhi family and imbibed their values. “I was terrified when I took over the Congress 20 years ago, my hands were shaking. I didn’t know how I would manage; I had no political experience,” she said.