With the winter session of Parliament starting on Monday, main opposition Congress on Saturday signaled that it will work with like-minded parties to corner the BJP-led government over its management of the economy, farm distress and rising unemployment.
The party has also decided to hold a rally in the national capital on November 30.
Top Congress leaders met in Delhi to chalk out ways to take forward its agitation programme. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel attended the meeting along with AICC treasurer Ahmed Patel, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal and many senior leaders, including party’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma.
Several state Congress presidents, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders, AICC general secretaries and in-charges of states and heads of the party’s various departments were in attendance.
Gehlot, sources said, did some plain-speaking. He is learnt to have said that the rally the party plans to hold in Delhi should not merely be a symbolic exercise. He said the party should put its heart into such efforts to take on the Narendra Modi government.
He recalled that the party had faced difficulties even during Indira Gandhi’s time, but it had bounced back after the defeat in 1977. He said while most leaders are sincere and believe in the party’s ideology, there may be some who are waiting for an opportunity to jump ship and pointed out that some MLAs had left the party before the Maharashtra Assembly polls.
He said results of Maharashtra and Haryana elections show that people are disenchanted with the BJP and are waiting for an opportunity.
While Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda urged the leadership to reschedule the November 30 rally, saying that the ongoing sowing season could affect big mobilisation in both states.
Jakhar, in fact, suggested that the rally be held in Mumbai instead, as farm distress is the severest in Maharashtra and the impact of economic slowdown is also felt the most in the state.
Briefing reporters, Venugopal said they discussed about the NSO reports on consumer spending and argued there is a perception that the government is pushing the country to a starvation-like situation with bad policies. AICC communication department head Randeep Surjewala took on Union minister Suresh Angadi, who had on Friday dismissed the Opposition’s criticism over the state of economy and maintained that “airports and trains are full and people are getting married”, which indicates the economy is doing “fine”.
“This reflects arrogance of power of a government drunk with authority that is now draconian,” Surjewala said.