Rahul seeks sweat, party has tears

FP

Rahul Gandhi took centre stage in the Congress on Sunday terming power as "poison" and issuing a call to transform the "system". The party's response was an outpouring of tears, with many chief ministers and senior leaders crying and hugging Rahul as he finished his speech at the AICC meeting here.

With everybody submerged in a pool of emotions, they even forgot to adopt the Jaipur Declaration.

In a speech evoking the Nehru-Gandhi family's bond with the party and its sacrifices, he disclosed that after his appointment as Congress vice-president Saturday evening, party president Sonia Gandhi had come to his room and cried. He recalled how two policemen who had taught him how to play badminton at his late grandmother Indira Gandhi's residence when he was a little boy and whom he considered his "friends" were the ones who killed her and "took away the balance" in his life.

By the time he ended his speech and returned to his seat to kiss his mother on the cheek and hug her, the entire auditorium was surcharged. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who hugged him and kissed his mother's hands, was seen borrowing Rahul's handkerchief to wipe her tears.

Her Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot was also seen wiping his eyes.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who was moderating the session, got up to praise Rahul Gandhi, calling him "prakash kunj" and "Eklavya" but broke down midway and withdrew after inviting Sonia to make her closing remarks. One Congressman hugged Rahul and started crying on his shoulders and had to be pulled back.

Priyanka Vadra and her husband Robert too were in Jaipur for Rahul's big day.

Rahul said that he had got up at 4 o'clock Sunday morning and, stepping out into the balcony, thought how he has a "big responsibility" in front of him.

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