In the end, it was a piece of paper from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to party general secretary Rahul Gandhi that did the trick.
Prompted by slogan-shouting workers to speak, a reluctant Rahul first exchanged notes with Sonia before taking the floor at the AICC session on Tuesday. In between, he also went out with some paper.
As Rahul got up to speak after Congress media department chief Janardan Dwivedi announced his name, the Talkotra stadium erupted in applause and cheering to greet the 40-year-old Gandhi scion.
"It (speech) was not part of the plan…. but you have put me in a spot," Rahul said as he began his speech.
In his less than five-minute speech in Hindi, the Amethi MP repeated his 'two India' theme.
"There are two Indias in the country today — one that is moving forward fast and the other that is for the poor (which is full of energy and potential but is in crisis). We have to work to connect and unite the two," he said.
Rahul said the Congress was the only party that could do it as other parties were formed on caste, religion or regional lines. "Congress is a national party and has its presence all over the country. It's gaining strength each year."
The demand for Rahul to speak came right after Sonia addressed the session. He was later accommodated between two speakers — Kerala Congress president Ramesh Chennithala and former Orissa CM Hemanand Biswal.
People, he said, used to say the Congress was finished in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. "The Congress is not finished. The party can be easily rekindled by learning the problems of the poor and working for them," he said.
Rahul also showered praise on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I have been travelling extensively across the country. After interacting with a cross-section of people, I have understood two things. First, is it is only the poor who can take the country forward. And if we have to take the poor people forward, the PM's strategy for economic growth is a necessity."