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Posted on Jan 20, 09:29PM | IBNS
Touted in media as the Reluctant Prince, Congress poster boy and scion of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty Rahul Gandhi on Sunday stepped out of the shadow of his prolonged ambivalence on active politics and in his maiden speech as the vice president of Congress gave a clarion call to transform India by empowering common people who are angry with the system for their exclusion.
In a speech, that was perhaps awaited by the nation, 42-year-old Rahul Gandhi chose to speak for the people and admit the loopholes in the system that forced the citizens on the streets and assured to empower the voiceless and not run for power just for the attribute of power.
He also enthused the party workers but calling Congress a party which has "Hindustan" as its DNA with a history of non violence .
"Congress party is now my life. The people of India are my life. I will fight for the people of India and for this party," he said in an impassioned speech that brought him cheers from the Congress workers who hollered his name to complete the coronation as the official second most important person in Congress.
"I will fight with everything I have," he said, often touching emotional chords by going back to the dark hours of Indira Gandhi's assassination and his father Rajiv Gandhi's travails and missions.
He said he would be a judge in the party to take it forward. "I will perform the role of a judge and not the lawyer," he said.
He said at least 40 leaders should be prepared by Congress who can lead the country irrespective of states and called for support to those leaders who work hard and deliver.
Rahul Gandhi began his speech with obeisance to Gandhiji and senior leaders and reminded all that Congress brought Independence by following Gandhi's non-violence methods.
"India fought with non violence and with voice. Everybody told us it cannot be done. Congress party said we are not going to use violence. This was the energy behind our freedom movement- millions and millions of our voices," he said, adding that Congress would also champion the voices of millions.
"If he is Indian we work for him," he said.
While reminding people that it is Congress which brought liberalization, telecom revolution, Right to Information Act, Right to Education, and Food Security Bill, Rahul Gandhi said there are many challenges ahead since people are telling that they want greater say in governance while the system is stuck in the past.
He said decisions cannot be taken behind closed doors anymore and the system that dis-empowers people would not work.
"Why handful of people control entire political space," he said. He said power has been centralized and "we do not believe in empowering people at the bottom."
"We do not respect knowledge, we respect position," he rued.
"This is the tragedy of India. People are angry because they are alienated," he said.
He said mediocrity dominates the country and the powerful people are disconnected from the issues.
He said everyday initiative is killed to maintain status quo and we pretend that the problem is not there.
Touching upon corruption, he said it is the corrupt people who talk about eradication of corruption now.
He said people who disgrace women talk about women rights.
"We need the aam aadmi to participate in politics," he said adding that the impatient and young India now demands more.
"They are not going to watch silently," he said, adding that time has come to question the centralized system of administration and politics.
He said the answer to all problems is to transform the system completely. "I am optimistic because we have already put the building blocks in place," he said, commending senior leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who in 1991 liberalized the economy and gave voice to the aspiring entrepreneurs who used to be caught in red tape.
He said the building blocks are that India is more connected today with roads, people, media and information. He said it is no longer possible to hold back ideas.
He spoke of direct cash transfer system and Aadhar.
He said it is no longer possible to limit an idea whose time has come, referring to Aadhar and direct cash transfers.
"My father used to talk of 15 paise reaching the poor, and now we are out to ensure that 99 paise reaches them," he said lashing out at opposition for calling the moves as bribing the people.
He said the balance of power should shift from New Delhi to the panchayats.
He also shared his morning experience after becoming the vice-president of Congress.
"This morning I got up at 4 and went to the balcony, thinking I have a big responsibility. I decided I will tell you about hope and power. As a boy, I loved to play badminton. It gave me balance in a complicated world," he said.
Rahul Gandhi is now the number two in Congress, only after his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, as the 128-year-old party crowned him Saturday as the vice-president officially ahead of the 2014 general elections when he is touted to take on the opposition BJP which could pitch Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi against him.
The move on Rahul Gandhi comes amid heightened clamour for the Congress party poster boy to be named as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections.
It has been speculated by many that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections might witness a clash between Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP leader Narenra Modi for the Prime Ministerial post.