The Congress on Wednesday took to the streets to stake claim to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, using his 150th birth anniversary to attack the Bharatiya Janata Party and stress its point that those who indulge in the politics of falsehood cannot understand his ideals of truth and selfless service.
In a show of strength, perhaps the first since the party's Lok Sabha poll debacle in May, Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well as her children, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, were out on the streets accompanied by thousands of party workers.
While Rahul Gandhi led a march of party workers to Rajghat, Sonia Gandhi waited at the memorial to address the workers and Priyanka Gandhi was in Lucknow.
Paying homage to Gandhi at Rajghat, Sonia Gandhi told party workers and leaders that the Mahatma's soul would be pained by what has been happening in India in the last few years under the present dispensation.
She claimed that the Congress was the only one party that followed the path shown by him and carried on his legacy.
Sonia Gandhi also participated in the oath that Congress workers took to achieve the India of his dreams by keeping faith in constitutional values.
Earlier in the morning, Rahul Gandhi fronted a march of party workers from the Delhi Congress office at the Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg to Rajghat.
He said he paid tribute to Gandhi, who through his words and deeds, showed us that love for all living beings and non violence is the only way to defeat oppression, bigotry and hatred.
Addressing the gathering at Rajghat in Hindi, Sonia Gandhi attacked the BJP government for seeking to appropriate Mahatma Gandhi's legacy. No matter what they might claim, only the Congress has followed Bapu's path and provided jobs, education and facilities to farmers, accomplishments which are unparalleled, she said.
"How can those who pursue the politics of falsehood understand that Gandhiji was the worshipper of truth? How can those who can do anything for power understand that Gandhiji was a worshipper of non violence? How can those thirsty for power understand the meaning of Gandhiji's Swaraj? Those who claim to be supreme at the first opportunity, how can they understand the value of selfless service of Gandhiji?" she asked while attacking those in power.
Terming it a historic, pious and auspicious day, the Congress chief described Gandhi as a "great personality" who inspired not only India but the entire world to adopt the path of non violence and 'satyagraha'.
She said all are proud that India has attained its present status following the path shown by the Mahatma, noting that it is easy to cite Gandhi's name but difficult to follow the path shown by him.
Sonia Gandhi said there has never been any dearth of those who tried to distract India from the path shown by Gandhi while citing his name.
"Despite all this, if India has not been distracted it is because its foundation is laid on the values of Gandhiji. India and Gandhiji are synonymous with each other. It is a different thing that some people are adamant on reversing this. They want the RSS and not Gandhiji to become the symbol of India.
"I want to tell them clearly... there cannot be any thought except Gandhiji's all-inclusive system, that includes the composite culture, civilisation and society of India," she said.
She said it is unfortunate that farmers are in poor condition, youth are struggling with unemployment, industries are shutting down, women not safe even in big cities and powerful people committing atrocities are sitting pretty while their victims are being put in jail.
"I want to tell those who decide the country's destiny that Gandhiji is a symbol of love not hatred, he is a symbol of harmony not confrontation, he is a symbol of democracy and not autocracy. No matter what others claim, the Congress is the only party that has followed the principles of Gandhiji and will continue to do so," she said.
"We need to carry forward the resolve to pay any price to safeguard fundamental honour, ancient dignity, cultural traditions, values of diversity and social harmony of the country. No matter how long or difficult this struggle is, we will follow this path till we emerge successful. I assure you, if the resolve is strong, the destination is never too far," she said.
In the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, Priyanka Gandhi said the BJP should first pursue the path of truth and then talk about Gandhi.
She made the remarks before participating in a silent three-kilometre march that culminated in GPO Park, where floral tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi
The silent march was viewed as a show of strength by the Congress which has been on the sidelines of state politics for a long time.
Congress leaders, including Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, also paid tribute to former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at his memorial Vijay Ghat.
The Congress will celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary by organising 'padayatras' across the country. The party has planned a week-long programme.