Congress president Sonia Gandhi, addressing the All-India Congress Committee session here on Tuesday, touched on a range of issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism, price rise, Naxalism, the Women's Reservation Bill and the party's preparations for the next round of Assembly elections.

Thematically, the speeches by both Ms. Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were united in their emphasis on the aam aadmi and the welfare of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised.

Dr. Singh stressed that his government's objective was to create a strong, secular, liberal and modern India, in which economic policy was crafted for the benefit of all sections, especially those at the bottom of the pile. The Congress, he said, was no ordinary organisation — it had created modern India. India today had a great need for a party like the Congress, he said, underscoring that the stronger it grew, the stronger the country would become. To achieve this, the Congress had to play a significant part in tackling the twin scourges of Naxalism and terrorism.

The session saw Rahul Gandhi making an impromptu speech “on popular demand,” while, predictably, the over 1,000 delegates authorised Ms. Gandhi to nominate members to the Congress Working Committee, the party's highest policymaking body.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Gandhi joked that though people thought that nominating CWC members was an easy task, it was actually difficult as the selection was bound to leave some people disappointed.

Party sources said they expected the list to be ready before the plenary session, scheduled for December 18, 19 and 20 in Delhi.

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