New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the party's newly-elected 52 members in Parliament will fight every inch of the way like "a pride of brave-hearted lions" to protect the Constitution and the country's institutions and there will be no walkover for the BJP.
Addressing the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the central hall of Parliament, Gandhi cautioned the lawmakers that it will "be like the British period, when not a single institution supported the Congress party" and asserted "yet we fought and won and we are going to do it again".
"We are 52 members and I guarantee you, it does not matter what institutions are standing against these 52 members. It does not matter who is standing against these 52 members. These 52 members 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 told the MPs, adding the Congress party will fearlessly do its duty as the leading opposition party in Parliament and outside.
Gandhi's pep talk to the Congress lawmakers comes as it struggles to come to terms with its second successive crushing defeat in Lok Sabha elections and is facing a leadership crisis after his decision to quit as party president.
The MPs at the meeting unanimously elected Sonia Gandhi as leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and she has been authorised to decide the leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
"The Congress Party may have just 52 Lok Sabha members, but we will work together like a pride of brave hearted lions to protect our Constitution and institutions and to fearlessly do our duty as the leading Opposition party. The BJP will have no walkover in Parliament," Gandhi later said on Twitter.
Stressing that the Congress will rejuvenate, he lauded each of the MPs who have won this election and said they would go down in history as the ones who not just fought against a political party but also against every institution.
"You fought a very good election, obviously, because 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.
"There is not one institution that did not fight you and tried to stop you from coming into 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 said.
Gandhi told the MPs that they have to understand that they are fighting for the Constitution of the country and the right of every single individual, regardless of the skin colour, religion, gender or state.
"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.
"Throughout the election, there is only one way to fight hatred and anger. There is no other way and that is the love and the affection and the compassion of the Congress Party.
"That is why the BJP sits and says that we want 'Congress-mukt Bharat' because without the Congress they have a 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. And that is what you have to understand," he told the new members.
He asked them to be more aggressive and said they "may have to shout a little more, as they will get less time in Parliament like the last time".
"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, we will put forth our defence of the Constitution," he said.
Gandhi also said it would have been better if some of the old faces would have won.
He said there were 5-10 people in the last Lok Sabha who gave tremendous support, but lamented that they did not win this time. "But they are ideologically with us even though they are standing outside the House. For me, they are standing with us inside the Lok Sabha."
Gandhi also thanked all the Congress workers "who fought for the idea of India and defended it" and said "it is an opportunity for us to introspect, to look inwards, to try and see as to what went wrong, to try to rejuvenate ourselves."
"I have no doubt that the Congress Party is going to rejuvenate. I have to thank all of you specially the seniors who are here. You have given a tremendous service in fighting for the Constitution and now you are fighting every single institution.
"There is no institution that is going to support you in this country, not one 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 told the MPs.