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Rahul Gandhi takes over as Congress president

Rahul’s elevation marks a generational shift in the country’s oldest political party that is going through a difficult phase due to a series of electoral setbacks.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2017 15:12 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,President
Rahul Gandhi (C), newly elected president of Congress, receives a certificate of election from Mullapally Ramachandra, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, as his mother and former president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) applaud during a ceremony at the party's headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday.(REUTERS)

Rahul Gandhi took over as the Congress president today, marking a generational shift in the 131-year-old party that has seen five other members of his Nehru-Gandhi family lead it.

Rahul replaces his mother Sonia Gandhi, who headed the party for a record 19 years since 1998, at a time when Congress is facing one of its worst crises due to a series of electoral setbacks at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP.

The 47-year-old was handed a certificate of being elected as the Congress president from Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, at a function organised at the party’s headquarters at 24 Akbar Road.

The poll panel had declared the Rahul elected unopposed on December 11 as he was the only candidate in the fray. He had filed his nomination papers on December 4.

The handing over of the certificate marks the end of the organisational polls in the country’s oldest party, which had to complete the entire process by December 31 as per the deadline set by the election commission.

Celebrations broke out with fireworks and dancing at the Congress headquarters in Delhi and its offices in various parts of the country.

Wishes poured in from top leaders of the country, including Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, DMK leader M K Stalin, and actor Kamal Haasan.

The event at Delhi was attended by Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.

Rahul’s elevation comes nearly five years after he was made the Congress vice-president in January 2013 and is the 49th president of the party, 17th since independence.

The new Congress president is expected to re-invigorate the grand old party ahead of the 2019 general elections, after it hit its lowest ebb three years ago, barely managing to win 44 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

A good show in Gujarat, where he is leading the party campaign from the front, will certainly give a good start to his new innings.

The change of guard brings down the curtains on more than 19 years of uninterrupted tenure of the 71-year-old Sonia who holds the record of being the longest serving Congress president after assuming the post on March 14, 1998.

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, is also expected to be reconstituted soon.

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 08:42 IST