Only poor can take India ahead: Rahul Gandhi

Only poor can take India ahead: Rahul Gandhi New Delhi: After getting a pat from the Congress top brass, Rahul Gandhi today took the floor at the AICC session and spoke of how only the poor can be the driving force to take the country forward.

Rahul also made a strong endorsement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic policies.

"If we have to bring forward the poor people of this country we have to work like PM who is giving economic growth to this country that's what we need."

The 40-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, who was seated in the back row on the dais at the AICC session here, rose to speak following vociferous demands from party workers after Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had addressed the delegates.

The AICC general secretary said he was being forced to speak since he was not listed as a speaker at the Congress gathering.

"This (his speech) was not part of the plan.

"You cornered me at the last minute," he said as Congress members cheered and clapped at the Talkatora indoor stadium.

Singh, Gandhi and Mukherjee in their speeches lauded the contribution of Rahul in bringing a new generation to the party fold through a democratic process in the youth and student wings of the organisation.

In his address, Rahul asked party members to work for the weaker sections who can take the country forward and pledged to strengthen the Congress.

"It was only Congress which could unite the "two Hindustans"-- one for the rich and the other for the poor," he added.

Telling the delegates about his extensive travels across the country and interactions with a cross-section of people, he said, "I have understood two things clearly. "First is that it is only the poor people who can take the country forward. And if we have to take the poor people forward, the Prime Minister's strategy for economic growth is a necessity.

"There are two Hindustans - one is growing very fast and the other is for the poor (which is in crisis).... We have to connect and unite the two.

Congress, he said, was the only party which could do this as all other parties were "either regional, or based on caste or religion".

"It is only the Congress - a national party -- which can do it as it has its presence all over the country," Rahul said, adding that the party was gaining strength every year.

He said people used to say that Congress was finished in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

"The party is not finished. The party can be easily rekindled by learning the problems of the poor and working for them," he said.

Sonia said, "We cannot remain an effective election machine which starts working only during a election. On this issue, I am happy that Youth Congress and NSUI have brought in a new generation of youth into the organisation through a democratic process." Rahul is the AICC general secretary in-charge of Youth Congress and party's student wing NSUI.

She also appreciated the work done by the youth and student wings of the Congress.

Singh said he was confident that the country's youth will fulfill the dreams of making the country strong.