Rahul Gandhi spearheaded Cong revival, provided 'moral, philosophical' leadership: Gaurav Gogoi

Crediting Rahul Gandhi with the revival of the Congress, party MP Gaurav Gogoi says he not only provided "moral and philosophical" leadership to the party but also set the narrative for the Lok Sabha polls which was reflected in the results.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi

New Delhi | Crediting Rahul Gandhi with the revival of the Congress, party MP Gaurav Gogoi says he not only provided "moral and philosophical" leadership to the party but also set the narrative for the Lok Sabha polls which was reflected in the results.

In an interaction with PTI editors, Gogoi recalled former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's "we will overcome" message at the Udaipur 'chintan shivir' of the party in May, 2022, to assert that the party had come a long way on the road to revival and was determined to move forward on that path.

"You must remember the journey of the Congress since 2021 when we had done very poorly -- we had done poorly in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in the 2021 assembly elections, we had lost in Assam and Kerala. The BJP was on an upswing. We organised the 'chintan shivir (brainstorming conclave)' in Udaipur as we were 'chintit (worried)'," he said.

Gogoi, who won the Jorhat Lok Sabha seat in Assam with a margin of 1.44 lakh votes, pointed out that the then president Sonia Gandhi in her speech at the end of the 'shivir' had to state that 'we will overcome' thrice, which reflected the party's mindset at that time.

"If you look from that time and see our position now, we have come a long way and we have to go even further," he asserted.

He said that following the 'chintan shivir', one has to see the Congress revival was being closely associated with Rahul Gandhi.

"The Congress asked him (Gandhi) to do a yatra (Bharat Jodo Yatra). He walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir for about 4,000 km from September 2022, to January 2023, the results of which we saw in the Karnataka polls. Then he was requested to do another yatra, this was after losing Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and in an environment that was prevailing in the run up to the Ayodhya temple consecration ceremony," Gogoi said.

"What were the issues in these elections - democracy, Constitution, caste census, Agnipath. Who brought these issues in our narrative? The main role of bringing these issues to the forefront was that of Rahul ji. So, he gave us a moral and philosophical leadership," he said.

Gandhi also gave the Congress organisational leadership and the results of all that have been seen in people's mandate in the Lok Sabha polls, he added.

"We won both seats in Manipur, we won a seat in Meghalaya, we won in Nagaland for the first time after 1990s. In Assam's Jorhat, we had won last time in 2009. In Dhubri, which was the bastion of a regional party (AIUDF) that used to act as a vote cutter, we won by a record margin. This revival has begun since Udaipur in 2022 and it is only going to go on and we have much to," Gogoi said.

He rued that the individual who has been vilified the most by media platforms is Rahul Gandhi.

"Still he continues to be a target of that vilification... The political pundits don't have the courage to accept that they were wrong about Rahul Gandhi," he said.

"Rahul Gandhi does not need to care. He is giving what the people of India want which is the message of peace and harmony. The message of Bharat Jodo Yatra was 'nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabat ki dukaan kholo'...You give me one example of a campaign in the world in recent times where love has been a political symbol," Gogoi said.

Asked whether Rahul Gandhi was the brain and muscle of the Congress campaign, Gogoi said the Congress also had a "phenomenal bench strength".

"I was part of (Congress chief Mallikarjun) Kharge ji's (party president) election. When people asked me why are you supporting Kharge ji when we have a contestant which is loved by the old media, I said, 'what is the role expected of the Congress party president: to revitalise the organisation and to work with allies and to speak of the Congress values to the weaker sections of the society," he said, hailing the role played by Kharge.

The Congress president's impact ever since he assumed the post in October 2022 cannot be undermined, he said.

The Congress's deputy leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha also lauded the role of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the elections for countering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attacks at the Congress.

"When you had the remarks of mangalsutra and the 'tu tu main main' by the PM, her response had the passion, grace, dignity and was the right counter. We had the best campaign," he said.

In the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, the BJP with 240 seats fell short of a majority but the NDA secured the mandate with 293 seats. The Congress bagged 99 seats while the INDIA bloc got 234 seats. Following the polls, two Independents who won have also pledged support to the Congress, taking the INDIA bloc tally to 236.

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