Following is the text of Sonia Gandhi's address to Congress Parliamentary Party meeting in Delhi on Tuesday evening where she announced her decision not to accept the prime minister's post.
Throughout these past six years that I have been in politics, one thing has been clear to me. And that is, as I have often stated, that the post of prime minister is not my aim.
I was always certain that if ever I found myself in the position that I am in today, I would follow my own inner voice. Today, that voice tells me I must humbly decline this post.
You have unanimously elected me your leader, in doing so, you have reposed your faith in me. It is this faith that has placed me under tremendous pressure to reconsider my decision. Yet, I must abide by the principles, which have guided me all along.
Power in itself has never attracted me, nor has position been my goal.
My aim has always been to defend the secular foundation of our nation and the poor of our country- the creed sacred to Indiraji and Rajivji.
We have moved forward a significant step towards this goal. We have waged a successful battle. But we have not won the war. That is a long and arduous struggle, and I will continue it with full determination.
But I appeal to you to understand the force of my conviction. I request you to accept my decision and to recognise that I will not reverse it.
Our foremost responsibility at this critical time is to provide India with a secular government that is strong and stable.
Friends, you have given me your generous support; you have struggled against all odds with me. As one of you and as president of the Congress party, I pledge myself to work with you and for the country. My resolve will in fact be all the more firm, to fight for our principles, for our vision, and for our ideals.