Jaipur: "My mother came to my room and cried... because she understands that power is poison," Rahul Gandhi said in a highly emotional speech after taking over the new mantle.
Striking a personal note, the 42-year-old leader in his maiden address as party Vice-President, recalled the moment when his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi walked into his room last night.
"Last night each one of you congratulated me. My mother came to my room and she sat with me and she cried... because she understands that power so many people seek is actually a poison," Rahul said at the AICC session here.
He recalled the time his grandmother and the then Prime Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by security guards with whom he used to play badminton as "friends" and how his father Rajiv Gandhi, who was himself "broken inside", showed a "glimmer of hope" to the people.
The young leader received a standing ovation by the audience which included Sonia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he said "We should not chase power, only use it to empower others."
He said his mother could see that power is poison "because she is not attached to it. The only antidote to this poison for all of us to see what it really is and not become attached to it. We should not chase power for the attributes of power. We should only use it to empower the voices."
Rahul recalled that as a little boy, "he loved to play badminton. I loved it because it gave me balance in this complicated world. I was taught how to play in my grandmother's house by two police men who protected my grandmother as my friends.
"Then one day they killed my grandmother and took away the balance from my life. I felt like I had not felt before." Rahul recalled how he knew his father was "broken inside" and "terrified of what lay in front of him".
"My father was in Bengal and he came back.... It was the first time in my life that I saw my father crying. He was the bravest person I knew and yet I saw him cry. I could see...I was small, but I could see my father was broken. They had taken away his mother and he was broken. In those days our country was not what it is today.
"In the eyes of the world we had nothing, we were worthless.... Nobody thought about us. That same evening I saw my father addressing the nation on TV. I know like me he was broken inside. I know like me he was terrified of what lay in front of him. As we spoke in that dark night, I felt a small glimmer of hope.
"It was like small ray of light in the dark sky and I still remember what it felt. The next day I realised that many people had seen it as well."
Amid repeated applause from the gathering during his 40-minute speech, Rahul said "as I look back... I have a political career of eight years and am 42 years old...I could see that it was that small ray of hope in the darkness that helped changed India into what it is today."
He said that he realises he has a big responsibility in front of him and that people are standing behind him.
Rahul said without hope nothing can be achieved. "We can have plans, we can have ideas but unless you have hope, you cannot change."
The leader said Congress is the symbol of hope. "Congress party is now my life, people of India are my life. I will fight for people of India and for this party. I will fight with everything that I have," he said.
After the speech, Rahul hugged his mother and later the Prime Minister, while other senior leaders greeted him.