'We have to prepare 40 to 50 leaders, who can run the country'
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In his maiden speech after being appointed the Vice President of Congress party, Rahul Gandhi today signaled major changes in its working but sought to allay apprehensions that he would ignore those who are not young.
Gandhi, who brought in several reforms in Youth Congress and NSUI also chose the occasion to press for definite rules to govern the parent party, which he said "runs without any rules and regulations".
The speech of Gandhi, who took over the new responsibility only yesterday, left little doubt of sweeping changes in the Congress even as he made it clear that these have to be brought out after due consideration and without haste so that they leave deep impact .
"Earlier I was the General Secretary in-charge of Youth Congress and NSUI. Now I am Vice President of the Congress party. You should not feel that Rahul talks only about the youth. Rahul's family now includes all Congress, Youth Congress, Mahila Congress.
"From today Rahul Gandhi will work for all. I want to promise that I will treat all of you equally, be it young leaders, experienced leaders, women. I will listen to everybody," Gandhi said in a speech surcharged with emotions in which he said his new role would be "that of a judge and not a lawyer".
Making a strong pitch for focus on leadership development, he said, "we have to prepare 40 to 50 leaders, who can run the country. Similarly we should have 5 to 10 leaders in states, any one of whom can become Chief Minister".
Gandhi also recalled that after India became independent, Congress had giants like Nehru, Patel and Azad, anyone of whom could have become the Prime Minister.
Gandhi turned emotional at times during his nearly 40- minutes speech, which saw a standing ovation by the gathering including the Congress chief and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when he remarked that "we should not chase power, only use it to empower".
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