Jaipur: In his first address after being appointed vice president of Congress, Rahul Gandhi on Sunday spoke of the anger of the youth saying they feel alienated from the political class and demanded a complete transformation of the system to give them a role in the political space.
Addressing the AICC session here, he made an emotional speech in which he said, "the Congress party is now my life and people of India are my life."
"I will fight for the people of India and for this party. I will fight with everything I have. I invite all of you to stand up and take on this fight," he said to a thunderous applause and a standing ovation from nearly thousand delegates at the AICC, that included his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manohan Singh, union ministers and top party leaders.
Rahul thanked Congress leaders and all his supporters. “This is a huge honour for me. Over the past eight years, the party has taught me tremendously. I have learnt from seniors, youngsters and thanks to all from the botton of my heart for the help which I got,” Rahul told the Congress gathering.
Raising the deficiencies in the India’s political system, the Congress vice president asked, “Why do handful of people occupy political space? Power is centralised in system. We don’t believe in empowering people.”
“People who are corrupt talk about eradicating corruption, people who disgrace women in daily life talk about women development,” he added.
Emphasising on empowering people who have immense knowledge but are deprived of positions, Rahul said that the time has come to question decision making in politics as only a handful are being empowered.
"From today Rahul Gandhi will work for all. I want to promise that I will treat all of you equally, be it young leaders, experienced leaders, women. I will listen to everybody," Gandhi said adding that his new role would be "that of a judge and not a lawyer".
Making a strong pitch for focus on leadership development, he said, "we have to prepare 40 to 50 leaders, who can run the country. Similarly we should have 5 to 10 leaders in states, any one of whom can become Chief Minister".
Gandhi also recalled that after India became independent, Congress had giants like Nehru, Patel and Azad, anyone of whom could have become the Prime Minister.
Turning to the youth, he said, "we need to respond to urgent demand for jobs", adding that the decision to create further job needs to be liberated from irrational laws.
Rahul Gandhi who will be leading the Congress campaign for upcoming 2014 General Elections, came down heavily on the Opposition parties and criticised them for terming the Aadhar scheme as bribing the people.
Rahul underlined the benefits of schemes like MNREGA, Food Bill, Right to Education, Direct cash transfer scheme.
He said that despite shortcomings Congress comes back to power because it represents the DNA of India, a fact, which other parties representing a particular religion of caste, fail to understand.
Touching on the issue of anomaly in ticket distribution, Gandhi said politicians from other parties join Congress at the time of election and then go back to their previous parties after losing the elections.
He said such leaders from outside "parachute" just before polls and "fly away" after losing the election.
"Our workers are left in the lurch. This has to change. First and foremost, the Congress workers should be honoured. Then there is a problem of people putting up rebels during elections. There is a need to take action against them," he said.
Striking a personal note, the 42-year-old leader recalled the moments when his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi walked into his room last night.
"Last night each one of you congratulated me. My mother came to my room and she sat with me and she cried... Because she understands that power so many people seek is actually a poison," Rahul said.
He recalled the time his grandmother and the then PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by security guards with whom he used to play badminton as "friends" and how his father Rajiv Gandhi, who was himself "broken inside", showed a "glimmer of hope" to the people.
After the speech, Rahul hugged his mother and later the Prime Minister, while other senior leaders greeted him with some of them giving him a warm embrace.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013, 16:51