Sonia Gandhi today said she felt “relieved” as Mallikarjun Kharge officially took over as Congress president, a post she held for nearly 23 years.
“I did my duty to the best of my ability. Today, I will be freed of this responsibility. A weight is off my shoulder. I feel a sense of relief,” Sonia Gandhi said at the change of guard event.
“This was a big responsibility. The responsibility is now on Mallikarjun Kharge,” she said.
Sonia Gandhi said the biggest challenge today was the crisis of democratic values in the country.
“The Congress faces many challenges. The challenge is how we face it. With full strength, unity, we have to move forward and succeed,” she told a gathering of Congress leaders.
Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, won the Congress president election last week, beating his rival Shashi Tharoor by a landslide.
Critics questioned the fairness of the election, suggesting that Mr Kharge, as the “Gandhis -approved candidate”, was sure to win.
Many also allege that Mr Kharge will act as the proxy for the Gandhis, who are not in the contest for the Congress top post for the first time in 25 years.
The Congress has rubbished these allegations, insisting that its election was a big success and was proof of democratic values in the party.
Mr Kharge, speaking after Mrs Gandhi, praised her leadership effusively.
“Sonia Gandhi was always truthful, the example set by her is unparalleled. Under her leadership, two UPA governments were formed, and the jobs scheme (MGNREGA), the Food Security Act, RTI (Right to Information) Act were enforced during those governments,” Mr Kharge said.
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