Rahul Gandhi was elevated as the party’s vice president in January 2013 and has since then, operated as the party’s number 2. Mrs Gandhi, 70, the party’s longest-serving chief, has been keeping unwell in recent years and had scaled back her public engagements, pushing to the fore Rahul Gandhi.

Celebrations began early this morning, party workers were seen dancing, distributing sweets outside the Congress headquarter in Delhi.

But formalities apart, he is, however, already believed to have taken charge. It was Rahul Gandhi who had rebuked veteran leader Mani Shankar Aiyar when he scored a goal against his own team with his “neech aadmi” comment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later decided to suspend the Gandhi family loyalist.

Mrs Gandhi is expected to continue to head the Congress Parliamentary Party. For most parts, Rahul Gandhi would have a free hand. Asked what role she would play after her son’s elevation, Mrs Gandhi said: “My role is to retire”. Mrs Gandhi told NDTV Rahul Gandhi had been helping decide vital party issues for years.

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