Congress at an all-time low: Sonia

Sonia Gandhi accused the Modi government of imitating UPA schemes and following a policy of minimum governance.

Updated - April 21, 2016 03:26 am IST

Published - August 13, 2014 12:04 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. File photo: PTI

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. File photo: PTI

In a frontal attack on the Narendra Modi government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said there has been an “alarming increase” in communal incidents since it came to power and asked partymen to resist its “authoritarian and sectarian” tendencies.

“It is our task to play the role of a vigilant Opposition, to stand up for the values and policies of the Indian National Congress, and to resist the authoritarian and sectarian tendencies of the new government as it tries to get its way in Parliament. This we have begun to do, I believe, with increasing effectiveness,” Ms. Gandhi said while addressing the second meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the new Lok Sabha.

>National Election Study 2014: The Congress will have to reinvent itself Since 1996, its vote share in national election has hovered in the range of 26 to 29 per cent. The lowest was 25.8 in 1998. This time, it fell to under 20 per cent.

Stepping up her attack on the BJP on communalism, she alleged that since the BJP has come to power there has been an alarming increase in number of incidents of communal violence.

“We have had hundreds of incidents of communal violence and rioting in Uttar Pradesh, in Maharashtra and a number of other States. In addition, there have been other subtle but pernicious signals of intolerance,” Gandhi said telling the partymen “our work is cut out for us.”

She acknowledged that “It has been a challenging time” for the Congress party. But at the same time, she noted “the process of rebuilding and restoring the confidence of the public in the Congress Party has begun.”

“We have been reduced in numbers to an all time low in the Lok Sabha. But we have not been reduced in spirit,” Ms. Gandhi said telling the partymen that the work of Congress is in Parliament, in public forums across the country, in our media and in the streets and homes of ordinary Indians everywhere.

With Congress still not getting the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha apparently weighing on her mind Ms. Gandhi said, “but Parliament is not the only forum available to us. If each of us has to be an effective Congressman and woman, we must also work to maintain and strengthen the grassroot connections to the voters that has brought us here.” Ms. Gandhi also accused the Modi government of “stealing” the ideas of UPA and “borrowing” its programmes as it has “nothing new to offer”.

>National Election Study 2014: The UPA-II Report Card The UPA’s passage of the Lokpal Bill, the Food Security Act, laws for women’s safety — all of which looked like progressive policy — were clearly overshadowed by a slew of controversies surrounding the government including the 2G scam, the coal blocks allocation scam, and the Commonwealth Games scam.

“The lesson of these 10 weeks is that the BJP has nothing new to offer the country. They attacked us without principles and they are now governing us without policies. Well, they are welcome to steal our ideas. They are welcome to borrow our programmes. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let them even continue to blame us for their own failures, as they have been doing,” she said.

Attacking the government over issues including price rise and unemployment, the Congress president said, “Prices are rising across the nation, hurting the ordinary housewife, the college student, the worker, and particularly the unemployed and deprived.

“How long will they be able to blame UPA government for your inability to control or improve the economy? Such excuses have a short shelf life.”

The NDA government’s first budget also came in for sharp criticism in the Congress president’s speech.

Noting that the ten weeks that passed since the last CPP was held in May have been eventful ones for the country and the world, she said, “the Government has introduced and passed a Budget that breaks little or no new ground.”

“They have paid us the tribute of imitating and extending, if not strengthening, a number of Congress programmes and initiatives that they had vehemently attacked when they were in Opposition.

“The new government now supports the proposed Goods and Services Tax, sugar subsidies, railway and diesel price hikes, FDI in insurance, the Aadhaar scheme, and other key UPA budget measures, all of which they had bitterly — and, if I might add, hypocritically — denounced, obstructed and prevented progress on when they were where we are today,” she said.

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