Rahul Gandhi, new Congress chief, says Modi taking India back to medieval age

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Rahul Gandhi, new Congress chief, says Modi taking India back to medieval age

While the Congress took India to the 21st century, Narendra Modi was taking her back to medieval times, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.

Rahul Gandhi officially became the leader of the Congress party on a chilly Saturday morning in New Delhi, as outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several leaders of the Grand Old Party watched on.

Rahul Gandhi is the 49th president of the Indian National Congress, the party most closely associated with the Indian freedom struggle, and the primary Opposition party to Narendra Modi's BJP. He is the sixth member of his own family - the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty - to lead the party.

His family predecessors in the role were Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi. Three of them were prime ministers.

Rahul Gandhi wasted no time in attacking Narendra Modi's government, saying "those in power" were shaped by the structures that keep India poor. Politics, he said, was being used not to uplift people, but to crush them.

While the Congress took India to the 21st century, Narendra Modi was taking her back to medieval times, the new INC president said.

But the Congress' respect for all Indians extended to the BJP, Rahul Gandhi claimed. "We do not fight hate with hate."

HAD FELT RAJIV'S, INDIRA'S SACRIFICES WOULD GO IN VAIN: SONIA

Sonia Gandhi, whose nearly two-decade long reign as president ends today, watched as her son received an election certificate - that was the precise moment when Rahul Gandhi became the leader of the party. Manmohan Singh said her leadership had been "powerful."

Sonia blessed her son, in a speech that was briefly interrupted by loud fireworks. She waited for several seconds before the ill-timed pyrotechnic celebration ended.

"20 years back, when you gave me this responsibility and I was standing here, I was very nervous," she said. "When I realized the Congress was getting weak, and communal forces started making their place, I felt that the sacrifices of Indira ji and Rajiv ji would go in vain, I decided to join politics for the country."

Sonia said Indira Gandhi's death changed her life forever. "I felt I had lost my mother," she explained.

"Back then, I used to look at politics from a different viewpoint. I wanted to keep my husband and children away from it. But my husband took a huge responsibility upon himself."

"Indira ji passed away, after which Rajiv ji also passed away, my support was taken away from me and it took me a long while to come to terms with it," she said.

"When I entered politics, as far as I remember, the Congress was only in government in three states and we were far from being in majority in the Centre. But one-by-one, we worked hard and formed goverments in almost two dozen states."

Today's Congress is nowhere as powerful, and Rahul Gandhi's challenge will be to change that. The Grand Old Party is in power only in a handful of states, and with several others going to polls next year, Rahul will hope to get a few wins under his belt.

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