"Congress needs to have foresight and humility to accept messages being expressed to us"
Acknowledging the poor show of his party in the recent Assembly elections in four States, it was an assertive Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who said the party needed to have the “foresight and humility to accept the messages being expressed to us.”
“We did not hit a six in the elections. We did not do as well as we were supposed to,” Mr. Gandhi candidly admitted. But quickly gaining ground, he put forth his action plan while going all out to woo India Inc.
In his 30-minute speech, marked by candour, wit and keen observations, the Congress vice-president highlighted the achievements of the UPA government. He invoked the Right to Information, the recent Parliament nod to the Lokpal Bill and the decision to keep convicted criminals out of Parliament to drive home his point.
Mr. Gandhi said the UPA government was considering a Natural Resource Investment Special Purpose Vehicle. “The idea is to obtain all clearances before auctioning projects to private players. This is a powerful and innovative idea,” he said, addressing the 86th annual general meeting of FICCI.
Stressing the need to go further than the Lokpal Bill as part of a strong framework against corruption, Mr. Gandhi said he had appealed for the passage of six critical anti-corruption bills in Parliament.
Flagging two such proposals, he said while the amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act would protect honest officers, the Grievance Redressal Bill would ensure that every citizen had the right to timely delivery of goods and services by his government.
Referring to the malaise of corruption, he said it was “bleeding our people dry. It is an unacceptable burden on the people.” His observation on his own conduct evoked a round of applause from the business leaders. “I got to learn that it is not polite to ask that ordinances be torn and thrown into dustbin!” His reference was to a press conference here where he said the ordinance to allow convicted criminals into Parliament should be torn. It led to the UPA government withdrawing it.
“Unfortunately, good news about this government doesn’t seem to sell newspapers these days,” the Gandhi scion observed.
Without naming any party, the Congress leader warned against the destructiveness of fascism and called for unity, compassion and harmony as the guiding force. Promising to abide by the voice of the people, Mr. Gandhi asserted that the Congress would renew itself and rise from adversity once again to fight for its age-old values of tolerance and compassion. He said the vision of his party was of a country united by compassion, harmony and peace and humility. The country had to eschew the greed for power, hatred, and conflict and hubris, Mr. Gandhi said, calling for trumping hatred as ever.
Reminding the gathering of age-old bonds of the Congress with FICCI, he said Mahatma Gandhi had first addressed FICCI meet in 1931. “You understand the global economic environment well; listening to your voice and heeding it is imperative.”
Pointing out that India was a fast-moving economy, he said business and industrial houses could not be held back by slow decision making. “Accountability has to be clear, fixed and time bound.”
Mr. Gandhi said the high economic growth during the past decade was solely because of the political stability and rational policy environment provided by the UPA government.