Senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said that she was happy that her innings could conclude with the Bharat Jodo Yatra which she described as a turning point for the party.

The Lok Sabha MP from Rae Bareli made the statement while addressing party workers at the 85th plenary session in Raipur where the Congress is expected to take key decisions on laying out the roadmap for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“Our victories in 2004 and 2009 along with the able leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh gave me personal satisfaction but what gratifies me most is that my innings could conclude with the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a turning point for the Congress,” she said.

Sonia Gandhi had been the Congress president from 1998 to 2017, when her son Rahul Gandhi took over. She again assumed the office as the interim Congress president when Rahul Gandhi stepped down in 2019 and was succeeded by Mallikarjun Kharge in October last year, soon after the start of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Rahul Gandhi had led the mass movement covering 12 states on foot since starting the march on September 7 and concluding it on January 30. He addressed 12 public meetings, over 100 corner meetings and 13 press conferences during the march.

“I congratulate all party workers who have worked hard for the Yatra.” Sonia Gandhi said. “I especially thank Rahul [Gandhi] ji, whose determination and leadership were crucial in the Yatra’s success.”

On Saturday, Sonia Gandhi said that the country and the party are going through challenging times.

“Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi and the BJP-RSS [Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] regime has relentlessly captured and subverted every single institution,” she said. “It ruthlessly silenced any voice of Opposition. It has caused economic ruin by favouring a few chosen businessmen at the expense of all others. And most distressingly, it fuels the fires of fear and hatred against fellow Indians.”

The politician alleged that the saffron party targeted minorities and ignored crimes and discrimination against women, Dalits and Adivasis.

She urged the party workers to come together for the Lok Sabha elections due next year.

“The Congress is not just a political party,” Gandhi said. “We are the vehicle through which the people of India fight for liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all. The path ahead is not easy, but my experience tells me victory will be ours.”

The three-day plenary session started in Raipur on Friday. Congress members had held a meeting of the steering committee to decide the agenda of the plenary session. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had skipped the steering committee meeting, with reports suggesting that they wanted to send a message they had no intentions of interfering with the party’s decision making.

The party also announced that it will not hold elections to its working committee and the members of the the top decision-making body will be nominated by Kharge.