Rahul helms war on 'medieval hate'
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi accepted the post of Congress president on Saturday with the promise to "defend the voice of every single Indian" and to fight hate with love.
In a powerful first address to the party as its chief, Rahul pitched the Congress worker as the only force in the country that can defeat the BJP's politics of "violence and hate".
"The Prime Minister today is taking us backwards to a medieval past where people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat. This ugly violence shames us in the world," he said.
Rahul, who described himself as an "idealist like many Indians", committed the Congress to standing up for everyone.
"They crush (any dissenting) voice, we allow the most vulnerable to sing. They defame, we respect and defend," he said, underlining the difference between the Congress and the BJP. "They break, we unite. They light fires, we douse them. They express anger, we spread love."
As thousands of party workers cheered, burst crackers and danced on the streets, Rahul continued: "They might control the structures of power, the machinery of silence and fear, but we in the Congress, we are the bastion of the people."
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted Rahul's "courage and humility" and hoped he would save India from slipping into the politics of fear.
Outgoing president Sonia Gandhi admitted that Rahul faced the most daunting challenge in the party's history. "He is my son and I don't want to praise him. But I will say this much: he has faced the tragedy of violence since his childhood. But the bhayankar vyaktigat hamle (dreadful personal attacks) he faced made him strong."
Rahul stressed that he had imbibed a lot from the party veterans he had worked with over the past 13 years, including Sonia and Manmohan. "It is with the utmost humility, the deepest humility that I accept this position, knowing that I will always be walking in the shadow of giants," he said.
To Congress workers, he said: "Each one of you is my family, you are mine and I will give you all my love." He promised to protect the workers in the organisation and to ensure their voice was heard.
His focus remained on drawing the distinction between what the Congress and the BJP stood for.
"We are now being compelled to imagine that businesses can be built without harmony, that only one man, one man himself, is the voice of reason, that expertise, experience and knowledge can be cast aside for personal glory, that it is acceptable for our foreign policy to lie in tatters so that one man can feel strong, and that everything in fact is subservient to the leader's personal image," he said.
Rahul asked party workers to become an instrument of dialogue between people of all castes, religions, regions and ages and invited youths across the country to join the Congress in building an India of love and brotherhood. "We will fight the politics of anger and hate and defeat it," he promised.