Sees an urgent need for like-minded political and social forces to come together

Sending out the message that communal politics posed the biggest challenge to India today, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated on Friday that this kind of politics was good for neither the nation’s security nor its inclusive growth.

Addressing party workers at the All-India Congress Committee session, Ms. Gandhi said there was an urgent need for “like-minded political and social forces to come together,” at a time when the nation faced the scourge of communal politics.

She called upon Congress workers to stand firm in the face of the party’s poor performance in the recent elections, which was primarily due to its inability to meet all expectations of the masses as it went about implementing a large number of schemes and programmes for their welfare.

On the idea of secularism, Ms. Gandhi said it means “equal faith in all religions (sarva dharma samabhava)” and not “dividing society on communal lines and spreading hatred in the name of unity to impose a single identity.”

She said the Lok Sabha polls would see a contest between “competing ideologies.” It would be a “battle between the forces of secularism and the others, a battle for the India we cherish.”

The Congress president declared that the party would do everything in its power to get six crucial Bills passed in the upcoming session of Parliament, to strengthen its fight against corruption.

‘Credit due’

For his part, the Prime Minister spoke about how his government had not got its due credit for ensuring an average growth of 7.9 per cent over the last nine years despite a global recession.

In an oblique reference to the governance of Narendra Modi in Gujarat, he said when people compared his government’s performance with the others they must bear in mind that it followed an “inclusive” model.

Dr. Singh admitted that a major reason for the decline in growth rate was that many infrastructure projects failed to take off when clearances were delayed because of the fear created by the actions of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Central Vigilance Commission. Expeditious clearance had taken a hit as “bureaucrats are hesitant” to take decisions fearing they would come under scrutiny later.

But despite such “obstacles,” the Cabinet had cleared projects worth Rs 5 lakh crore which would “bear fruit” soon.

Dr. Singh defended his government in the matter of coal blocks allocation and 2G spectrum scam, saying it had merely followed the “earlier policies.”

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