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India's Rahul Gandhi makes impassioned pre-election speech to fire up Congress party

Published on Jan 17, 2014 9:21 PM
Congress Party Vice President, Rahul Gandhi waves to party workers during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in New Delhi on January 17, 2014. Indian political boss Sonia Gandhi batted away pleas to name her son as prime ministerial candidate for the ruling Congress party in upcoming elections, which she called a battle to save the nation's secular identity.--PHOTO: AFP 

NEW DELHI (REUTERES) - India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty scion promised on Friday to combat corruption and warned of an opposition trying to split India on religious lines in his first speech since being named to head the embattled Congress Party's campaign in a general election.

Broadcast live across India, the address was touted as a coming-of-age event for a 43-year-old politician struggling to follow in his family's footsteps as a statesman and fiery orator capable of galvanising a new generation of voters. "We want to give the country anti-graft bills which will transform the country, punish the corrupt and protect the honest," Mr Gandhi told a meeting of the ruling Congress party. "Change is coming to the Congress party."

Flanked by his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he often shouted into the microphone to hundreds of delegates in an impassioned speech aimed at firing up the party ranks.

His politically-powerful mother earlier said Rahul Gandhi would not be prime ministerial candidate, following a Congress tradition of naming leaders only after winning elections and also protecting her son from a likely election defeat.

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