New Delhi: As Sonia Gandhi handed over the charge of Congress President to her son Rahul Gandhi on a chilly Saturday morning admist fanfare and celebrations laced with mixed emotions, nothing could have been a more picture-perfect moment than the one in which he kissed his mother on her forehead.
The handing over of the mantle of the leadership of the 132-year-old party took place at a ceremony on the lawns of the Congress Headquarters where Central Election Authority President Mullapally Ramachandran presented the Certificate of Election to Rahul Gandhi in a ceremony watched by Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other top leaders of the party.
The moment Sonia Gandhi completed her last speech addressed to the party workers as party president and walked up to her chair, an emotional Rahul Gandhi came forward greeted her mother with a kiss on her forehead. She returned the gesture with a pat on his back. She also congratulated him gave her best wishes and blessings for the future endeavours.
Though Sonia Gandhi's speech in Hindi was punctuated by loud fireworks set off by enthusiastic party workers, forcing her to pause several times and also briefly lose her cool, the atmosphere outside the party headquarters had a feel of a carnival.
Outside the 24, Akbar Road, Congress Headquarters, a group of colourfully dressed artistes played drums and danced to bhangra tunes with party supporters, including men and women, shaking a leg or two and waving Rahul Gandhi's pictures and Congress flags.
There were other groups of artists from Hyderabad and Rajasthan performing folk dances of their regions.
Party workers from across the country thronged to the Congress office in different regional costumes, either to congratulate Rahul Gandhi or to get a glimpse of their furture leader. They distributed sweets, burst crackers, took selfies on their mobile phones, shouted slogans and gave a hard time to the security personnel.
The crowd on Akbar Road kept swelling as the day progressed, so much so that many senior Congress leaders had a tough time entering the party office. While many managed to struggle their way into the party headquaters, others had to either leave or be content listening to their leaders from outside.
Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit admitted that she was in tears listening to Sonia Gandhi's speech which was laced with emotion and a sense of fulfillment.
"I have mixed emotions today. @OfficeOfRG (Rahul Gandhi) reinforced the hope that Congress and its values are in safe hands. Hearing Sonia Gandhi speak brought tears to my eyes. She went through so much in her life and yet never lost her poise," Dikshit tweeted.
As Sonia Gandhi made way for her son on Saturday, the party leaders gave a standing ovation after her speech and felicitated her with a citation and a shawl.
As the ceremony came to an end, Priyanka Gandhi, on his brother taking over the mantle of party President, said: "He has a tough road ahead...and I think he is the man for it. He is brave enough..."