United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi who was elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) at a meeting of party MPs at the Central Hall of Parliament on Saturday rallied her battered party saying it will rise again.
The parliamentary party meeting to elect the leader of the Congress was held a week after its president Rahul Gandhi announced his decision to quit the post following the drubbing in the recent general election that saw the Narendra Modi-led NDA storming to power with 352 of the 542 seats polled.
The meeting of the newly-elected Congress Lok Sabha MPs took place ahead of the Parliament session beginning on June 17. Congress Rajya Sabha MPs and 52 newly-elected Lok Sabha MPs attended the meeting.
Sonia Gandhi is also the chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party in both Houses.
Sonia Gandhi acknowledged that the Congress was facing ‘an unprecedented crisis’ where lay ‘an unprecedented opportunity’.
‘In an unprecedented crisis, lies an unprecedented opportunity. It is up to us to grasp it with humility and self-confidence, drawing the appropriate lessons from our defeat. The people of India expect us to honour their mandate by renewing and reinvigorating ourselves. Undeterred by the many challenges that lie ahead, we will rise again,’ she said.
The meeting took place in the background of the stalemate over the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress chief. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) had rejected his offer to resign in a fractious meeting on May 25.and authorized him to overhaul the party despite Gandhi’s purported insistence on quitting.
At the CPP meet Sonia Gandhi also praised Rahul Gandhi for ‘his valiant and relentless campaign’.
‘As Congress President, he has given his all and toiled night and day for the Congress party. He demonstrated his fearless leadership, by taking the Modi government head on. He highlighted the injustices carried out against farmers, workers, traders and small businesses, against the youth, women and the marginalised sections of our society.
‘He has rejuvenated the Congress organisation in many states, and most recently lead us to victory in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. As Congress President, he earned the respect and love of every worker and crores of voters across the length and breadth of our country,’ she said.
The suspense over whether Gandhi will continue to lead his party lingered even as Congress workers in several cities across the country held demonstrations urging him to rethink his decision to quit following reverses in the Lok Sabha elections.