Rahul Gandhi took over as the official president of the Congress at an event at the party headquarters on Saturday. Central Election Authority President Mullapally Ramachandran provided him a formal certificate for being elected the party president, ANI reported. He vowed that the party will stand up to defend all Indians.

The 47-year-old was elected unopposed on Monday. He is taking over from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest-serving party president, since taking charge in 1998.

Claiming that many people in the country and disillusioned with what they see in politics, Rahul Gandhi said it is “devoid of kindness and truth” and it is used to “crush people instead of lifting them”.

People are attacked the moment they challenge the structure of power, and facts are distorted, he said. “The Congress had taken the country to the 21st century but our prime minister is taking us back,” the Congress president said. “We are now being told only one man is the voice of reason - that everything is subservient to him...Our foreign policy is in tatters so that one man can be strong.”

Gandhi urged people to stand up to such forces. “We will never allow to silence the voice of every Indian...I want the Congress party to become an instrument of dialogue for all Indians,” Gandhi said.

He added: “Congress is an ancient idea. BJP would like you to believe their idea is the oldest, this is not true.” Though the Congress doesn’t agree with the Bharatiya Janata Party, “we consider them our brothers and sisters”, he added. “We do not fight hate with hate. They crush voices, but we allow the most vulnerable to sing.”

Earlier, Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke at the event. Sonia Gandhi said that the Congress will not get scared or “back off from protecting the values of the Constitution”. The Congress party needs to introspect to so that it can represent the “aam aadmi”, she said, adding that these days, “there is an assault on the fundamental values, an assault on free speech, an atmosphere of fear.”

Manmohan Singhsaid that Rahul Gandhi will bring in a sense of commitment and dedication as the party president. “I am sure the party will scale new heights of glory,” he said.

Party workers and supporters have been celebrating outside the All India Congress Committee office since early morning.

On Friday, Sonia Gandhi had indicated that she will soon retire from politics. When asked about her role now that her son Rahul Gandhi was set to take over the reins of the party, the 71-year-old leader told reporters, “My job now is to retire”. She also said that Rahul Gandhi has been helping decide on vital party matters for many years now.