NEW DELHI: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was on Saturday elected as the leader of Congress Parliamentary Party in Lok Sabha by the Grand Old Party's newly-elected MPs.
The meeting of the MPs was held in Central Hall of the Parliament House and was also attended by party's Rajya Sabha members.
"We thank the 12.13 Crore voters for reposing faith in the Congress Party," said Sonia after her election.
In her speech after being elected the CPP leader, she called upon party MPs not to let their guard down and urged them to play the role of an effective opposition and ensure better coordination and cooperation with like-minded parties in Rajya Sabha.
She told the members that the issues they raise in Parliament must resonate in the minds of the party workers and with the public.
She also said that the party will play a constructive role in supporting the government in reform measures but will oppose it for it "divisive and regressive actions".
Party chief and Sonia's son Rahul Gandhi, who has offered to resign following party's performance in Lok Sabha election, said: "Every Congress member must remember that each one of you is fighting for the Constitution, for every person in India irrespective of the colour of his skin or belief".
"Congratulations to Smt Sonia Gandhi on being elected Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Under her leadership, the Congress will prove to be a strong and effective opposition party, that will fight to defend the Constitution of India," he tweeted.
Sources said the Congress Parliamentary Party authorised Gandhi scion to pick the party's leader in Lok Sabha.
Sonia, in her speech, lauded the role of Rahul during the Lok Sabha polls.
Lauding Rahul Gandhi's role as party chief, she said, "I also take this opportunity to whole-heartedly thank Rahul Ji for his valiant and relentless campaign. As Congress President, he has given his all and toiled night and day for the Congress party."
She said Rahul demonstrated his "fearless leadership" by taking the Modi government head on and highlighted the "injustices" carried out against farmers, workers, traders and small businesses, against the youth, women and the marginalised sections of society.
She said Rahul has rejuvenated the Congress organisation in many states, and most recently led the party to victory in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
"As Congress President, he earned the respect and love of every worker and crores of voters across the length and breadth of our country. Even as I speak, emotional messages are coming from all corners, vindicating his leadership. We all express our gratitude to him for his sincerity of purpose, his relentless effort, his hard work and leadership," she said.
On the reducing strength of the party in Rajya Sabha, the new CPP leader said as numbers will be challenged, it is even more important to ensure better coordination and cooperation with like-minded parties.
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Gandhi's name was proposed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and seconded by Jharkhand MP Jothimani S and Kerala MP K Sudhakaran.
She has convened a meeting of senior leaders in the afternoon to decide on the matter.
"In this time of crisis, we must acknowledge the numerous challenges confronting the Congress party. The Congress Working Committee met a few days ago to deliberate the next steps and the way forward for us. Several decisive measures to strengthen the party are being discussed," she told the MPs and leaders, while hinting at changes in the party that are in the offing.
The sources say that the party is discussing several proposals, including installing a non-Gandhi as the party chief and a body of senior leaders that acts as a guiding force to the new president.
She said even though the party had 44 MPs in last Lok Sabha and about 55 in Rajya Sabha, under Rahulji's leadership the Congress party has fought bravely to expose the government's misdeeds and congratulated the MPs for their hard work.
"We were in the forefront of ensuring that some of the UPA's historic Acts were not diluted. At the same time, we cooperated with the government on a series of reforms, with constructive suggestions. This time too, we will support progressive and inclusive policies but oppose the government strongly whenever they undertake divisive and regressive actions," she said.
The MPs will also elect the Congress leader in Lok Sabha and chalk out the party's strategy for the upcoming session of Parliament, they said.
This was the first official meeting that Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended after the May 25 meeting of the Congress Working Committee, where he had offered to quit as party's chief after the debacle in the Lok Sabha Polls 2019.
The CWC has already rejected his offer to resign and unanimously passed a resolution authorising him to bring structural changes in the party at all levels in a bid to revamp it.
There have been several representations from across the country, asking Rahul Gandhi to continue leading the party. He met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy, who had also called him to stay as Congress chief.
(With PTI inputs)