Congress President Rahul Gandhi told party MPs on Saturday that the situation faced by the party workers was similar to that in the British period when it had no institutional support but it fought and won and is going to do so again.
Addressing the first Congress Parliamentary Party meeting here after Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi said the verdict was an an opportunity to introspect, look inwards, try and see as to what went wrong and rejuvenate the party.
“I have no doubt that the Congress Party is going to rejuvenate,” he said.
The Congress chief said that 52 Congress MPs, who won the Lok Sabha elections, had done so facing all adversities as all the institutions were against them.
Targeting the BJP without naming , Gandhi said people opposing the party in Parliament use hatred and anger in their fight and these tendencies can be fought by the Congress.
“There is not one institution in this country that 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.
Gandhi has offered to step down as Congress chief, taking responsibility for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. However, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has rejected his offer to resign. It was Gandhi’s first speech after his offer to quit at the CWC meeting.
“The people who won the Lok Sabha this time need to understand exactly what they fought. You 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,” Gandhi said.
“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.”
He recalled the manner in which the party took on the BJP in the last Lok Sabha election.
“When we had 45 members last time, I felt it is going to be really a tough job. I felt that the BJP has 282, we are 45. What we are going to do with 45? But I must tell you very quickly within a couple of weeks I realised that 45 Congress members are enough to take on 282 BJP Members,” he said.
“We are 52 members and I guarantee you, it does not matter what institutions are standing against these 52 members. They are going to fight the BJP every single inch, without giving this much and that applies to the members from Rajya Sabha as well,” he added.
He also said the Congress was fighting the battle to protect the Constitution and for the rights of every single individual regardless of skin colour, religion, gender and caste.
“That is what you are fighting for. And who is fighting against you, you have to understand that also. Hatred, cowardice and anger are fighting against you. Lack of confidence, lack of self-belief is fighting against you. The people who are opposing us in Parliament House, they use hatred, they use anger to fight us,” he said.
Referring to his election campaign, Gandhi said there is only one way to fight hatred and anger and “that is the love and the affection and the compassion of the Congress”.
“That is why the BJP sits and says that we want Congress-mukt Bharat because without Congress they have free run and no one to counter them. There is no opposition against the BJP other than the love and the compassion, the affection of the Congress party,” he said.
Enthusing the members, he said they were going to enjoy themselves and would need to me more vocal than usual.
“You are going to have to be little more aggressive. Last time, if the Speaker used to give us five minutes this time it may be two minutes. But in those two minutes, we will put forth what the Congress Party believes,” he said.
In an apparent reference to Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiridatiya Scindia and other party leaders who lost the elections, Gandhi said he would have been quite happy if some of them had been re-elected “because I must say that there were 5-10 people in the last Lok Sabha who gave us tremendous support”.