Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday described the results of the recent Assembly elections as “shocking and painful” and called for unity at all levels as the road ahead for the party was tougher and its spirit of resilience was under severe test.
Ms. Gandhi, who was addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) at the Central Hall of Parliament before the end of the Budget session, hit out at the BJP for its ‘divisive agenda’ and accused it of “mischievously distorting’ contemporary history to further fuel a polarising agenda. She accused the ruling establishment of targeting Opposition leaders and workers. “The full might of the State machinery is unleashed against them,” she said.
Talking about the party’s performance in the recent Assembly elections, Ms. Gandhi said she was aware how disappointed colleagues have been and the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had reviewed it once. A ‘‘chintan shivir” (brainstorming session) would soon be held, where a large number of colleagues could be heard to put forward a clear road map.
“The road ahead is more challenging than ever before. Our dedication and determination, our spirit of resilience is under severe test. Unity at all levels of our vast organisation is of paramount importance and speaking for myself, I am determined to do whatever is needed to ensure it,” she stated. “Our revival is not just a matter of importance to us alone. It is, in fact, essential for our democracy itself and indeed for our society as well.”
The Congress chief’s comment was a clear message to G-23 leaders, the ginger group that has been pushing for internal reforms and collective leadership at all levels.
Assails govt on many issues
Ms. Gandhi criticised the government over a range of issues: from prices of cooking gas, edible oil, petrol, diesel, fertilizers and other essential commodities reaching an unbearable limit to the situation on the country’s borders.
She expressed concern over micro small medium enterprise (MSMEs) being in a “precarious” condition and alleged lack of any signs from the government that they would honour the commitments made to farmers.
In matters of governance, it was inevitable that some do real work and lay the foundation while others claimed credit, she noted. “I am glad that at least two landmark initiatives of the Congress-led UPA government, much criticised by no less a person than the Prime Minister, have turned out to be saviours of crores of people in the last two years,” she said, referring to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Food Security Act.
In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, she noted with satisfaction that India’s policy of non-alignment had now been rediscovered. She, however, said that students who have been evacuated from Ukraine should be assured immediately The issue of high cost of medical education in the country should also be addressed.
Talking about growing polarisation, she observed, “It is for us all to stand up and confront these forces of hate and prejudice. We will not allow them to damage the bonds of amity and harmony that have sustained and enriched our diverse society for centuries”.
Apart from party members from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the CPP meet was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former party chief Rahul Gandhi.
Ms. Gandhi started her speech by praising the contribution of senior leaders, who have retired from Parliament.