Nava Raipur: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi expressed gratification on Saturday that her innings could conclude with the "Bharat Jodo Yatra", as the party showered praise on the septuagenarian for the achievements after she became its president 25 years ago.
Addressing party leaders and workers at the 85th plenary session of the Congress here, Gandhi congratulated Mallikarjun Kharge as the new party chief and hoped that with his long experience, he would lead the young generation in taking the party forward.
After a video was played at the plenary session on her contributions to the party, Gandhi said she must express her gratitude for all that has been said about her tenure as the Congress president and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regimes.
"This also shows how old I have become and now, young people under the leadership of Mallikarjun Kharge must come forward," she said.
The former Congress chief was all praise for Kharge's journey from the grassroots levels to the top party post.
"I had the honour of taking office as the party president for the first time in 1998. Over these 25 years, our party has seen times of high achievement and deep disappointment.... Our victory in (the) 2004 and 2009 (Lok Sabha polls), along with the able leadership of (former prime minister) Manmohan Singh, gives me personal satisfaction, but what gratifies me the most is that my innings could conclude with the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which came at a crucial point," she said.
As her comments were interpreted by some as alluding to her retirement from active politics, a senior Congress leader clarified that Gandhi's remarks were in the context of her tenure as the party chief.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Chhattisgarh Kumari Selja also said Gandhi's speech was about the conclusion of her innings as the party president.
Sonia Gandhi was the Congress president from 1998 to 2017, when her son Rahul Gandhi took over. She again assumed the office as the interim Congress president when Rahul Gandhi stepped down in 2019 and was succeeded by Kharge in October last year, soon after the start of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
In her speech, Sonia Gandhi also congratulated Rahul Gandhi for providing the leadership and determination in the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
"The yatra has come as a turning point. It has proved that the people of India overwhelmingly want harmony, tolerance and equality. It has renewed the rich legacy of dialogue between our party and the people through mass-contact programmes. It has shown us all that the Congress stands with the people and is ready to fight for them," she said.
"I congratulate all the party workers who worked hard for the yatra. The colleagues, young and old, who took part in it and the lakhs of people of India for their participation, support and affection.
"I specially thank Rahulji, whose determination and leadership proved crucial in the yatra's success," the former Congress chief added.