Hours after the Congress formally announced his appointment as party general secretary, Rahul Gandhi emerged on the grassy lawns of 10, Janpath with mother and party president Sonia Gandhi to meet and thank the scores of party workers and leaders waiting to congratulate him.
As slogans of ‘Rahul Gandhi zindabad’ rent the air, the young leader, wearing a crisp, white kurta pyjama and a broad smile, went around shaking hands, exchanging greetings and accepting roses and garlands. Both mother and son went briskly around the entire length of the lawns, thanking the select few who had been let in — party workers, Youth Congress and NSUI members, Sewa Dal and Mahila Congress activists, senior party office-bearers, secretaries and ministers. Karan Masson, a local college student who shook hands with Rahul, was ecstatic. “I hadn’t expected this at all,” he beamed.
Long before outgoing chairman of the party’s media department and party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi’s announcement that Rahul was now party general secretary and member of the Central Working Committee, the celebrations had begun outside 10, Janpath and the party headquarters at 24, Akbar Road. The sound of crackers almost drowned out Dwivedi’s voice at the over-crowded media briefing room. By noon, Congress workers had gathered on Akbar Road, as news spread that the time for Rahul to shoulder “greater responsibility in the Congress” had come.
The demand had echoed from all quarters of the Congress and at every occasion since the party’s Hyderabad plenary in January 2006. “We have burst all the crackers we could have. For us, this is a world cup win,” Youth Congress president Ashok Tanwar said.