Soon after the resignation of the CWC members, the new president constituted a steering committee till the time a new CWC is constituted
New Delhi: Mallikarjun Kharge took over as the Congress president on Wednesday as the Gandhis abdicated the post almost after a quarter of a century. The taking over ceremony was attended by all the senior leaders of the party, including the outgoing party chief Sonia Gandhi, former president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary of the party Priyanka Gandhi. His rival in the recently concluded party election, Shashi Tharoor was also present.
Speaking at the function Mr Kharge said: "It’s an emotional moment for me as the son of a labourer, a common Congress worker, has taken over as chief of the Congress party. I thank you all for this honour. I started this journey in 1969 as a block committee chief today you have taken it to such heights."
In a message to the party workers, he said it will be his "utmost" duty to look after party workers. He said, "We will uphold the Constitution of this country, respect everyone’s rights and give equal opportunities, defeat those who spread hate, and fight inflation, unemployment and hunger."
Mr Kharge also spoke about the party’s Udaipur Declaration and said that the proposal to give 50 per cent of party posts to those below 50 years of age will be implemented. Meanwhile, all the general secretaries and in-charges of the party and CWC members have handed over their resignation letters to the party chief. A new list is expected soon.
A plenary session of the AICC is also expected early next year after the completion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Soon after the resignation of the CWC members, the new Congress president constituted a steering committee till the time a new CWC is constituted. The 47 members of the steering committee are mostly the former members of the CWC, including former PM Manmohan Singh, Mrs Gandhi, Mr Gandhi. Constituting the steering committee in the absence of the CWC is mandated in the party constitution.
Ahead of the function, Mr Kharge visited Rajghat in Delhi on Wednesday morning to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. He also paid a visit to Mr Singh at his residence.
Speaking at the function Mrs Gandhi said she felt "relieved" as Mr Kharge took over. She said, "I did my duty to the best of my ability. Today, I will be freed of this responsibility. A weight is off my shoulder. I feel a sense of relief. This was a big responsibility. The responsibility is now on Mallikarjun Kharge."
She further added: "Congress had faced a lot of difficulties earlier as well. But I’m sure we will overcome the problems."
Mr Kharge has his task cut out and has to hit the ground running. As soon as he assumed office, he chaired an election committee meeting to shortlist the candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat.
The Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will be the first electoral tests of his presidency. With the festival season coming to an end and the new president taking over, the Rajasthan crisis and the leadership change issue will once again surface in the state.
Apparently backed to the hilt by the Gandhis, Mr Kharge trounced his rival, Mr Tharoor, by a huge margin in a direct election. The 80-year-old veteran leader from Karnataka has become the second Dalit leader to lead the Congress party.