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Sonia Gandhi gets emotional as she hands over baton to son Rahul, remembers Indira, Rajiv

Sonia Gandhi says she was so nervous when she stood to address for the first time as the Congress president that her hands were shaking.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2017 22:26 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
Sonia Gandhi,Sonia Gandhi emotional,Congress President
Outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party’s new chief Rahul Gandhi at the ceremony in New Delhi on Saturday.(PTI Photo)

As Sonia Gandhi took to the stage to deliver her last speech as Congress president after handing charge to her son Rahul Gandhi, she was forced to pause several times as the loud fireworks set off by enthusiastic party workers drowned out her voice. “I can’t speak,” she said helplessly.

She began: “This is my last address to you as Congress president, as you face a new era under a new leadership...” -- but was interrupted by the fireworks.

“Nearly twenty years ago....(again interruption)....

She paused as the loud fireworks by Congress workers drowned out her voice completely.

At this a miffed Rahul Gandhi stood up, walked towards the extreme corner of the dais and instructed party workers to get the fireworks stopped.

Meanwhile, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi also appealed to Seva Dal workers to get the fireworks stopped. But the appeal failed.

Sonia Gandhi started again: “Nearly twenty years ago when I stood before you to address you for the first time as your chosen president..(interruption).”

“I can’t speak..My voice is..,” a visibly disappointed Sonia said shaking her head.

She turned back and asked if she could stop her speech.

“I have to shout..if I shout, then my voice fails,” said a visibly annoyed Sonia Gandhi. Rahul then came to his mother’s rescue and assured her.

As the fireworks faded out, Sonia continued, and managed to complete the sentence. “Nearly twenty years ago when I stood before you to address you for the first time as your chosen president, I was so nervous that my hands were shaking.”

Sonia got emotional as she recollected the sacrifices made by her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and husband Rajiv Gandhi for the country and said she decided to join politics when she felt “Congress was facing a crisis and communal forces were gaining strength”.

“Indiraji (Indira Gandhi) accepted me as a daughter and from her I learned about the culture of this country, about those principles on which this nation was founded,” said Gandhi.

“In 1984, when she was assassinated, I felt as if I had lost my own mother. That catastrophe changed forever the course of my life. I had a different view of politics at that time and I had wanted to keep my husband and children as far away from it as possible,” added Sonia.

“...But a heavy responsibility fell on his shoulders (Rajiv Gandhi) and despite my pleas, Rajiv ji accepted as a duty the post of prime minister.”

Sonia added: “He worked hard day and night to fulfill this responsibility. With him I travelled to remote corners of the country, came to understand something of our people’s problems and the challenges facing our country.

“Then, just seven years after the death of Indiraji, my husband too was assassinated. I lost my anchor and my support,” she said, in a voice full of emotion.

Sonia said it took several years for her to recover from it. “It was many years later that I could emerge from my shell,” she said.

“Only when I came to feel that the Congress was facing a crisis, and that communal forces were gaining strength, did I feel compelled to respond to the call of the party workers,” she added.

She said: “I felt that my turning away from this summons would negate the sacrifice of my mother-in-law’s life and my husband’s life. So I entered politics -- to fulfill a duty to my family, party and country.”

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 22:25 IST