Sonia Gandhi urges senior party leaders to revive party; slams govt over price rise, intimidating minorities

She said the party has faced reverses, but it will seek cooperation and support of all leaders in sending across a message of unity, cohesion and commitment to ensure the party regains lost fortune

Sonia Gandhi urges senior party leaders to revive party; slams govt over price rise, intimidating minorities
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Prakash Bhandari

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi reiterated her stand on veteran party leaders, who, she said, should now try and rejuvenate the party that had given them so much. She said the party is facing “unprecedented” situation and the party under such circumstances will have to take “unprecedented” decisions to achieve its goal.

By urging the senior leaders of the party to contribute their best to revive a party that had given them so much, the Congress leader pointed towards some senior party functionaries who have enjoyed positions in both party and in government. Earlier during the Congress Working committee’s meeting in Delhi, she had expressed the same sentiments.

Speaking at the inaugural address at the Nav Sankalp Shivir in the lake city, she said the party has faced reverses, but it will seek the cooperation and support of all leaders in sending across a message of unity, cohesion and commitment to ensure that the party regains its lost fortune. She appealed to the party men to contribute to reviving the party.

“The fire of hatred being ignited has taken a heavy toll on the lives of the people. This is having serious social consequences, much more serious than we can imagine” said Sonia.

Attacking the NDA’s Narendra Modi government Sonia Gandhi said, now it has become abundantly clear what PM Modi and his colleagues really mean by their slogan “maximum governance, minimum government".

She further said “it means keeping country in a permanent state of polarization, compelling people to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity, viciously targeting, victmising and often brutalizing minorities who are an integral part of our society and equal citizen of our republic”.

"It means using our society's age old pluralities to divide us and subverting a carefully nurtured idea of unity and diversity. It means threatening and intimidating political opponents, maligning their reputation, jailing them on flimsy pretexts using investigative agencies, Sonia Gandhi further alleged.

She said the new Sankalp Shivir has given the party men an opportunity to discuss numerous challenges the country is facing now because of the policies of the BJP and the RSS and its affiliates. She said the Udaipur Shivir is both “Chintan” and meaningful “atmachintan”.

She said the UPA government gave welfare schemes like MNREGA and National Food Security Act (NFSA), but the NDA government has given the poor unbearable inflation. She expressed shock and unhappiness at the spiraling prices of cooking oil, food grains, cooking gas, petrol and diesel. The Congress president expressed her concern that the poor are being burdened without being provided any relief.


She first addressed in English which was meant for the party men across the country and also for the people in general. Her address in Hindi that followed was far more loud and clear when she asked the party men to do their best to revive the party’s fortune as the party badly needed their support. She admitted that the party will have to change its stance and choose a new path to bring the party back on rail.

Prior to this, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the Modi government was writing a new script of ethics in politics. He said all the Central agencies are pressed into the service for meeting the political demands of the BJP. He said the Opposition leaders are constantly being harassed through raids by the enforcement department and also by the Income Tax department.

Here is the complete statement in English by the Congress president:

"Our Chintan Shivir in this historic city with such a glorious heritage has as its theme Nav Sankalp.

It gives us an opportunity to discuss amongst ourselves the numerous challenges that the country is facing as a result of the policies of the BJP and of the RSS and its affiliates.

It is also an occasion to deliberate on the many tasks ahead of us.

So it is both a chintan about national issues and a meaningful atma-chintan about our party organization.

I am well aware that many of our colleagues wanted to be here but we had to limit participation for a variety of reasons. I am sure they will all understand. Not being here does not in any way devalue the role they are playing in our organization.

By now it has become abundantly and most painfully clear what Prime Minister Modi and his colleagues really mean by their frequently repeated slogan: maximum governance, minimum government.

It means keeping the country in a state of permanent polarization, compelling our people to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity.

It means viciously targeting, victimizing and often brutalizing minorities who are an integral part of our society and are equal citizens of our republic.

It means using our society’s age-old pluralities to divide us and subverting the carefully nurtured idea of unity in diversity.

It means threatening and intimidating political opponents, maligning their reputations, jailing them on flimsy pretexts, misusing investigative agencies against them.

It means eroding the independence and professionalism of all institutions of democracy.

It means the wholesale reinvention of history, the constant denigration of our leaders especially Jawaharlal Nehru and systematic moves to distort, deny and destroy their contributions, achievements and sacrifices.

It means glorifying the killers of Mahatma Gandhi and their ideologues.

It means the blatant undermining of the principles and provisions of our nation’s Constitution, of its pillars of justice, liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism.

It means turning a blind eye to continued atrocities across the country on weaker sections, especially dalits, adivasis and women.

It means using fear to make the bureaucracy, to make corporate India, to make civil society and sections of the media fall in line.

It means more empty slogans, diversionary tactics and utter silence on the part of an ever so eloquent Prime Minister when the healing touch is most needed.

It is not just the undermining of our long-cherished values embodied in the Constitution that are now at grave risk. The fires of hatred and discord that are being ignited have taken a heavy toll on peoples’ lives. This is having serious social consequences.

The vast majority of Indians want to live in an atmosphere of peace, amity and harmony. The BJP, its cohorts and surrogates want to keep our people in a state of perpetual frenzy and conflict. They constantly provoke, instigate and inflame. We have to combat this growing virus of divisiveness that is being maliciously and mischievously spread. This we must do at all costs.

We must sustain high economic growth to provide adequate employment opportunities for our youth, generate revenues needed for welfare programmes and improve the standard of living of our people. But the worsening environment of social illiberalism and bigotry shakes the very foundations of economic growth.

Starting with the disastrous demonetization of November 2016, the economy has been on a steep downslide. A large majority of MSMEs have been crippled. Unemployment has risen alarmingly and for the first time it appears that vast numbers of people have simply stopped looking for jobs.

Whatever support the central government has been able to provide in the past two years to people has been on account of at least two landmark initiatives of the Congress party—Mahatma Gandhi NaREGA and the National Food Security Act.

The sheer tenacity of the farmers and their organizations compelled the Modi Government to repeal the three black farm laws. The Congress party stood by them steadfastly throughout their long struggle, both within Parliament and outside. But the promises made by the Prime Minister to the farmers when they withdrew their agitation have yet to be fulfilled. Meanwhile it looks as if procurement of wheat this year will fall steeply threatening the very foundations of our national food security.

Prices of essential items of mass consumption—like cooking gas, cooking oil, pulses, vegetables, fertilizers, petrol and diesel-- continue their upward march placing an intolerable burden on crores of families.

Public sector companies built up with such careful planning with economic and social objectives in mind by earlier Congress governments are now being privatized with a vengeance, and to a chosen few. This will have disastrous repercussions. Among other things, this means that one avenue for assured employment for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes will get closed."

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