NATIONAL

Coalitions inevitable, says Congress

NEW DELHI, AUG. 21. The Congress today accepted the "inevitability of coalitions for the foreseeable future'' and the central leadership used the first All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting after the 14th Lok Sabha elections to drive home this point to its rank and file. The political resolution noted that the "success" of the party's first experiment at coalition governance at the Centre was dependent equally on workers and leaders of the affiliates.

`National imperative'

Stating that the stability of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government is a "national imperative,'' the AICC said: "Whilst we emphasise the crucial importance of the Congress president's contribution to the management of the UPA and maintenance of comfort level of the alliance partners, it cannot be gainsaid that the real success of the UPA depends as much on the cooperation and understanding between the rank and file of the respective partners as indeed between the leaders in Parliament.''

`Natural rallying point'

Also, the Congress sought to portray itself as a party at ease with coalition politics and a natural rallying point for various political forces in the country's fractured polity. "Historically, the Congress party has been seen as a broad coalition of social groups and interests.... Many empowered sections of society which directly benefited from Congress policies consistently supported us whilst others even branched off to other political formations for a host of subjective and objective reasons. However, their separate successes were sporadic and varying. Prevailing ground realities have led to inevitable public aspiration for renewed collaboration and cooperation with the Congress.''

While a separate resolution had been passed thanking the voters and the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, for the 2004 mandate, the three-in-one (political, economic and diplomatic) resolution was also lavish in its praise for her. In a separate resolution, the party re-dedicated itself to the "grand ideals'' cherished by the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. A fourth resolution was passed on Panchayati Raj in which the Congress called for "the closest possible institutional links between elected party representatives in the urban and rural local bodies and the party organisation in the States and Union Territories and at the level of the AICC.''

Resolutions passed

These three resolutions were passed immediately and the omnibus resolution was open to debate but for the most part delegates preferred to shower praise on Ms. Gandhi. Besides reiterating the party's commitment to coalitions, the political resolution also attacked the National Democratic Alliance — particularly, the BJP — for its "misdirected and misconceived governance.''

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also came in for scathing criticism in the political resolution. "The ideology, programmes and principles of the RSS are blatantly communal, divisive and contemptuous of the basic precepts that define the ideology of the Constitution of India. A country that cannot faithfully preserve the narrative of its history betrays its succeeding generations. The BJP's assault on the education system, particularly, in the distortion of history, has therefore to be corrected with single-minded devotion of all liberty-loving citizens of India.'' Stating that the battle for the minds and hearts of the people was far from over, the resolution asserted the need to clean up the "atmosphere polluted by the RSS.''

Referring to the "saga of corruption and exploitation evidenced by scams'' the resolution called for urgent, "appropriate corrective measures and accountability.'' Also, it presented the Congress governance model as one that "eliminates corruption, legislates good laws that can be reasonably obeyed, provides for accountability and transparency in administrative decisions, greater people's participation in policy-making, and ensures a pervasive sense of justice.''