4.45 pm: Will go into battle with head held high, says Rahul
"My dear friends there is a tough battle ahead of us. We will go into battle as warrior with our heads held high we will not look back," he said.
4.30 pm: "At the next AICC meet, want more women leaders in AICC"
"I want to see a day where 50 per cent of our AICC representatives are women. India can never stand on its feet unless women are respected and empowered." he said. "We must tackle price rise more seriously. Congress party wants 12 subsidised cylinders," he said.
Taking a jibe at the Opposition he said: " Opposition experts are experts in marketing. They are so good that they will even sell a comb to a bald person," he said.
"This is a democratic party. Our Constitution says that the PM is chosen by MPs. We love our country not because its rich and powerful but because of its ideals of humanity," he said.
4.13 pm: Rahul Gandhi in an aggressive mood, highlights people's power
Speaking about the Congress party, Rahul said that 'Congress has taken big steps to give people the power.' "We need to bring in the voice of MP back into law-making. Democracy is not ruled by one man, it is ruled by empowered elected representatives," he said.
"We do not respond by blocking Parliamentary sessions, year after year, day after day. We don't respond by providing over simplified non-solutions," he said. "Instead the Congress party responds through peaceful, democratic and constitutional ways," he said.
Highlighting Bills like the Lokpal Bill, Rahul said that there was a lot of noise while passing the Lokpal Bill. "We have 6 Bills in Parliament that will transform fight against corruption," he said.
Praising the Congress workers he said that this time the workers will fight elections.
Speaking about the party's plans, he said that in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections the manifestos will be prepared after discussing it with party workers, farmers and NGOs. "Congress will fight the fight for the middle class person. We will ask party workers and directly choose candidates," he said.
4.03 pm: Rahul Gandhi addresses AICC Meet
Addressing the AICC meet here, Rahul Gandhi today said: "It is an honour to me to speak to the soldiers of this party," he said. Praising PM Manmohan Singh, Rahul said that he 'thanks the PM for his job that he's done for this country.'
"Our party has helped deepen the foundation of democracy. Nobody told us, pressurised us to bring in the RTI. It is the Congress party who thought that the people needed the RTI," he said.
Praising the Congress party, Gandhi said: "We constructed and reinforced the third pillar of our country, the Panchayati Raj. This brings power to the grassroots. Congress has provided unmatched power to people. Tell me one thing that we have done to not give people power," he said.
3.50 pm: Rahul Gandhi to address AICC meet shortly
After the clamour for Rahul Gandhi being named as the PM nominee grew more during the AICC meet, Rahul said that he would speak his mind when he addresses the meet.
3.30 pm: Arun Jaitley hits out at Mani Shankar Aiyar
Hitting out at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley tweeted-
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>The strength of Indian democracy will be proved when a former tea vendor defeats a Dynasty representative. Let this be the battle of 2014.</p>— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) <a href="https://twitter.com/arunjaitley/statuses/424102638632714241">January 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Jaitley said that 'Gandhis can't control India.' "They can control a party but not India," Jaitley said.
1.32 pm: Sam Pitroda, key adviser to Rahul Gandhi speaks
1.30 pm: Union Minister Sachin Pilot speaks at the AICC meet
"If we go together and bury our internal differences, victory will be ours."
1.15 pm: Priya Dutt backs Rahul Gandhi's PM candidature
Congress leader Priya Dutt today backed Rahul Gandhi's prime ministerial candidature and said: "Rahul Gandhi represents the vision of the youth, he has the vision for this country. When we look at opposition, they only criticise but never put their vision on what they plan to do for the country. We have given people their rights, empowered them. Rahul has rightly said that no country can be build on hate and violence."
12.40 pm: 'Let's introspect loss' says Manmohan Singh
Speaking at the AICC meet Manmohan Singh said: "Congress is the only progressive party in the nation. I have no doubt that if we prepare well for the 2014 polls and tell people what we have provided, we will wim, Rahul will win."
"We must tell the country that Congress is the only country that can provide an inclusive, secular growth," Singh said.
Speaking about the Opposition, Singh said that the people must analyse the Opposition's moves and how they have performed. "Opposition is making tall claims, which are impossible to fulfill. If we work hard and tell people what we have done, we can win," he said.
Speaking about women's security, Singh said said that 'women's security has been our prime focus. "Strong anti-sexual harassment policies and laws have been implemented," Singh said.
12.37 pm: Manmohan Singh addresses AICC meet
Addressing the AICC meet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that today's AICC Meet was important for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. "I thank Soniaji for calling this meet," Singh said.
12.10 pm: Omar Abdullah praises Modi for his humble origins
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said that Modi has a lot of negatives but his humble origins are a positive. He tweeted-
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>Modi has a lot of negatives but his humble origins are a positive some of us can't claim. We aren't helping our campaign by mocking him.</p>— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) <a href="https://twitter.com/abdullah_omar/statuses/424070262582022144">January 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
11.45 am: Chidambaram urges for younger Cong leaders
Addressing the AICC meet, P Chidambaram said that the party had won the political freedom, there were many more freedoms to be won. "No other government has witnessed such development. Everyone is equal for Congress. Idea for India is not that we will grow but to ensure that growth leads to inclusive development,' he said.
Defending the government's growth record, Chidambaram said: "We have given Rs 57,000 crore education loans. in the last ten years, our government has delivered successfully. India has achieved highest ever growth rate in the last ten years under the UPA," he said.
"I have a radical idea, I feel that in at least 272 parliamentary seats, Congress must field candidates below 35 years. That will be our idea of 'Young India, Empowered India.' The youngsters will take forward the idea of Congress. I support the resolution and ask you to support the resolution," Chidambaram said.
Even Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted-
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>Chidambaram suggests that half our candidates for Parliament should be under 35. Trust Young India with power and responsibility!</p>— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShashiTharoor/statuses/424066780030435328">January 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
11.20 am: Ghulam Nabi Azad praises UPA government
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that never has he seen so many schemes and laws made by any government in modern India.
"Our party is not just India's but world's largest democratic party. We are based on the values of nationalism and secularism," Azad said.
Meanwhile Congress passed the political resolution saying that Rahul Gandhi will lead the Lok Sabha elections.
11.05 am: We have never compromised on the idea of secularism, says Sonia
"We have never comprised on the idea of secularism," Sonia Gandhi said. Hitting out at the Opposition she said: "Our main Opposition party's sole mission is to divide people, how can we tolerate that," she said. She said that divisive forces are stretching the social fabric to a breaking point. "Congress believes in uniting the nation," she said.
Meanwhile clamour for Rahul for PM candidature grew and Rahul was seen pacifying the members urging them to maintain calm. "I will speak my mind post 3 pm," Rahul said.
10.57 am: Sonia Gandhi highlights UPA government's achievements
Addressing the Congress leaders here Sonia Gandhi said: "We are a party that passed the RTI Act the single most important reason why citizens feel empowered to fight corruption," she said.
She said that the party believes in transparency and empowering people. "Inequality can be addressed through education, the Right to Education is our answer, especially for girls," she said.
"Congress party has lifted crores of Indians out of poverty. We've taken the country forward in field of science and technology," she said. "Whether we win or lose, our party is the only one that is present in every village, every street," she said.
10.53 am: Sonia Gandhi speaks at AICC meet
Congress President Sonia Gandhi addressed the AICC meet here and said that 'this elections is a battle for India as perceived by its founding fathers'. "Congress has faced many problems in the past but we have always been committed to our vision. We want to send out a clear message that we are ready for the elections," she said.
10.51 am: Decision taken by the CWC on Rahul is final says Sonia Gandhi
Congress President Sonia Gandhi began her speech at the AICC meeting saying that the 'decision taken on Rahul Gandhi is final.'
10.40 am: Decision by CWC on Rahul Gandhi is final, says Priya Dutt
Congress MP Priya Dutt today said that the decision taken by the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Rahul Gandhi is final.
10.22 am: Soniaji has only followed tradition, says Sheila Dikshit
Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today said: "Soniaji has only followed tradition and not made the announcement on the prime ministerial nominee yet. Everyone wants Rahul Gandhi as the next prime minister," she said.
10 am: Mani Shankar Aiyar draws flak for comment on Modi
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar today mocked BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying that 'Narendra Modi can never be the PM but only a tea stall owner. "If he wants we can arrange a tea stall for him in today's AICC meet," he said.
9.32 am: Congress keeps mum on naming Rahul as PM candidate
Congress leader Annu Tandon said that the party has never announced the prime ministerial candidate. "We have never announced the PM candidate. We can work under both Rahul and Sonia," Tandon said.
9.11 am: Will fight elections under Rahul Gandhi: Arvinder Singh Lovely
Delhi Congress Committee Chief Arvinder Singh Lovely today said that the party was not disappointed. "We will continue to fight the elections under Rahul Gandhi. We have never had a tradition of naming prime ministerial nominee. I have my sympathies with the BJP. There are too many people waiting to be the PMs in their party," he said.
9 am: AICC core meeting begins in New Delhi
The AICC core meeting begins in New Delhi. The party will discuss its strategy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote" lang="en"><p>Top leadership of Congress gathers for AICC session today. Stirring&combative speech by party President Sonia Gandhi <a href="http://t.co/HN46ME0Z0y">pic.twitter.com/HN46ME0Z0y</a></p>— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) <a href="https://twitter.com/ShashiTharoor/statuses/424051054603276288">January 17, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
On Thursday clamour for naming Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate grew but Congress Working Committee said that Rahul would not be named as the PM candidate. CWC said it was Sonia Gandhi, who intervened and said that it was a tradition with the party not to name its PM candidate ahead of the elections.
Watch Rahul's speech here- <center><iframe width="100%" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RynxRXho7ck?feature=player_detailpage" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>