New Delhi: “We have a new Congress president and on your behalf and my own I wish him all the best. He is now my boss, too. Let there be no doubt about that,” Sonia Gandhi, former Congress President said while speaking at the Congress parliamentary party meet.
“I know that all of you will work with him with the same dedication, loyalty and enthusiasm as you did with me,” she went on to say.
Pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation
Sonia Gandhi said on Thursday all like-minded parties need to work together and ensure that the ruling BJP is defeated in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections which could be held as early as the end of this year. She emphasized there was a need to “restore India” to its democratic, inclusive and secular path.
“An all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation has been created. Liberal, secular and democratic traditions are being wantonly damaged. The pluralistic nature of our society—which has been its strength for centuries—is being eroded,” Gandhi said at a Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, adding that institutions were being ‘destroyed’.
She alleged a “systematic assault” on various institutions of democracy. She charged the government for using investigative agencies as instruments to target political rivals.
Maximum marketing, minimum delivery
Sonia, the UPA chairperson also took on the NDA government saying while they promised a government under the theme ‘maximum governance, minimum government, they failed to deliver on this promise.
“Their only skills appear to be those in marketing of existing UPA schemes. This government announces what it calls new programmes and initiatives ever so often, unveiling them with the flourish of a magician. In reality, they are simply recycled schemes that were launched during the UPA government. True, the new names are catchy and colourful, perhaps much more so than during our time, we must admit. But this seems to be a game of Maximum Publicity, Minimum Government, or put another way, Maximum Marketing, Minimum Delivery. If this government is to be believed, India had accomplished nothing before May 2014.” Commented Mrs. Gandhi.
Where is the healing touch in Kashmir?
Sonia Gandhi also raised the NDA government’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir saying violence continued unabated in the state and there was little by way of development.
“We must combat cross-border terrorism forcefully—on that there can be no compromise. We salute our jawans who are bearing the brunt. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have laid down their lives for our country. Side-by-side, we must also ask, where is the healing touch, where is the developmental thrust, where is the political engagement that was so much in evidence when Dr Singh was Prime Minister?”
Echoing her party’s oft-repeated demands for clarification on the Rafale deal, Sonia wondered: “And what do we make of the government resorting to fictitious arguments to justify the secrecy about the price of one of India’s biggest defence purchases – the Rafael fighter aircraft?”
Where are the jobs?
She questioned the “tall claims” on the economic front, including job creation.
Sonia spoke about the need to not just highlight the “abject failures of the Modi government but more importantly, build a positive and credible narrative for ourselves on issues of public concern.”
“Unemployment is staring at our youth. New jobs are not only not being created, but existing jobs themselves are being lost,” she asserted. “Employment cannot happen without new investments and the fact is that there has been a marked decline in the rate of investment over the past four years.”
Need for Unity in upcoming elections
In her appeal to like-minded parties to join hands and work together, Sonia said the party’s recent performance in Gujarat and Rajasthan were indications that the “winds of change are coming”, expressing confidence that the election results in Karnataka, too, will “underline the resurgence of the Congress”.
She also appealed to party workers to gear up for the Lok Sabha elections. “We have to be in a state of readiness for the national elections which are due in slightly over a year – and might well be called earlier as they were in 2004. No doubt 2014 was a severe setback, but I am convinced that it was an aberration. Increasingly, the people of our country, people belonging to all sections of our society—are getting disillusioned with the present regime. It is for us to channel this discontent into support.”