A combative Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday vowed to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) every inch of the way and attempted to talk up the morale of his party’s newly elected parliamentarians, saying they had emerged triumphant from a fight that had every institution of the country ranged against them.
His mother and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chief Sonia Gandhi, who was re-elected chief of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), told the MPs that “in an unprecedented crisis lies an unprecedented opportunity,” adding to the pep talk that prepared the way for the Congress to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
At the first meeting of the CPP after the April-May national elections, both leaders signaled that there would be no let-up in the fight against the BJP.
“We are 52 MPs. I guarantee you that these 52 MPs will fight against BJP every single inch,” Rahul Gandhi said in the first remarks he made at a party forum in the week since offering to quit.
Rahul Gandhi told the MPs that they are “probably the first people in this country’s independent history, who have fought an election not against a political party but against every single institution in this country”.
“There is not one institution that did not fight you and tried to stop you from coming into the Lok Sabha and you fought every single one of those institutions and you forced your way into the Lok Sabha. And that is something you should be extremely proud of,” Gandhi told the CPP amid applause.
“You have given a tremendous service in fighting for the Constitution and now you are fighting every single institution. There is no institution that is going to support you in this country, no one is going to support you. It is like during the British period, when not a single institution supported the Congress Party, yet we fought and won and we are going to do it again,” he said towards the end of his speech.
They were Rahul Gandhi’s first remarks at a Congress forum since the Congress Working Committee meeting on May 25, when he took responsibility for the party’s crushing defeat in the April-May general elections and said he wanted to step down as party president. Both the CWC and CPP meetings were closed-door events, but on Saturday, the party released a transcript of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks.
The Congress won 52 seats in the 2019 elections, improving its tally marginally by eight seats from 2014. The BJP won 303 seats, up from 282 in the previous election.
Sonia Gandhi was re-elected CPP president after her name was proposed by former PM Manmohan Singh and seconded by K Muraleedharan and Jyotsna Mahant.
Both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi referred to 2014 to indicate that even with its current strength, the party is ready to fight. The Congress had taken on the BJP-led government even with those numbers, Rahul Gandhi said.