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AICC meet: Read full text of Rahul Gandhi’s Speech

Rahul said the coming elections are a turning point in the country's journey and the Congress should transform itself by catering to the aspirations of the common man.

New Delhi | Updated: January 17, 2014 8:46:53 pm
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi at the AICC session. (AP) Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi at the AICC session. (AP)

It is an honour for me to speak to you. Last year, at a similar gathering  of colleagues and friends, I spoke about the optimism and energy that  has built this great nation. The same energy that is unleashing an  unstoppable democratic upsurge in our country today.

For the last ten years, we have had the privilege of Prime Minister, Dr.  Manmohan Singhji’s leadership. This unbroken decade of stability has  created vast new economic opportunities for our youth and has brought  about massive social and political change.

It is clear that we the Congress have made this democratic upsurge  possible. We have served the country by enhancing and deepening the  foundations of our democracy.

Let’s look at the big steps that we took to increase your power, the  people’s power, in India. The single biggest attack on the closed system  of governance is the RTI. Information is power. We restored this power  to you where it rightfully belongs. The RTI has forever altered the  politics of this country. We enacted this revolutionary law to hand you  power, knowing fully well that it would place our own government  under severe scrutiny.

We have also created the right to identity so that your money reaches  you directly. It is the largest anti corruption platform that anyone has ever built. It will enable people to get their benefits and entitlements  without paying a bribe.

Secondly, we constructed and reinforced the third pillar of government – Panchayati Raj. This has allowed millions of you to have access to our  political system and has exponentially increased democracy in our  country. What is NREGA and the Right to Food, if it is not handing  you power? Decisions that were once in the hand of a few government  officials are today firmly in the hands of all our people.  The third step is the advancement of technology, the bedrock of which  was set up by the Congress.

What the Congress party has enabled over the last ten years is an  unmatched transfer of power to our people.

The answer to India’s problems lies in pushing this revolutionary  democratisation further. There are MPs and MLAs here among us your  job is law making. While the work that you do on the ground is  very important, we need to bring your voice back into the law making  process. It is you who truly represent the people of India, yet what  power do you have in the system today?

We need to bring the voice of elected Local Self Government  representatives into the governance of the country. There are some  Pradhans in this audience and lakhs across the nation. I ask you: what  power do you have to shape this country? Democracy is not rule by dictate. It is not rule by one man. It is rule through empowered elected  representatives.

We have to empower all of you and bring you back into law making so  that the voice of the MP counts in parliament, so that the voice of the  MLA resounds in the legislature, so the voice of the Pradhan truly counts in the village. But the most important person is our worker.
Before we can empower MPs, MLAs and Pradhans we have to begin by empowering millions of our dedicated workers on the ground.

You should be able to enter the political system effortlessly and change  your future. Instead you struggle. A disempowering system holds you  back.

Today we live in a world where packaging and selling politics seems to  replace the essence of real issues and real people. But lets be honest with  each other. This is not just another turn in the history of India, another  election to be fought, won or lost. This is a turning point in our nations’  journey. Nobody is in the mood to accept less than their full and  complete right. No-one is willing to compromise anymore. They want  individual choice. They want participation. They want a Fair Deal and they deserve it. Either we wake up to their aspirations, or we have no  business to claim that we represent them. The change that is taking place  around us is unstoppable.

The imperative before us, is not whether to change, but when and how to  change.

What does this mean for us as a political party?

It means responding to the immense demand for political and governmental reform in the revolutionary and dynamic way that only the  Congress Party is capable of doing.

It means that unlike others, we do not respond by complaining about all  that is wrong without articulating how it will be corrected.

We do not respond by proposing oversimplified non-solutions.

We do not respond by subverting democratic institutions and blocking  Parliament session after session, year after year.

Nor do we respond by turning people against each other and lighting the fires of communal hatred.

No, we do not respond by proposing either that the structures of  democracy be handed to one single person or that they be viciously  destroyed.

The Congress Party responds through peaceful, democratic and  constitutional means. We respond from the soul of the values that built  this great nation. It is interesting to see that the response of the  opposition has been to move in exactly the opposite direction.

People demand honest and efficient governance. We respond by getting  the Lokpal Act passed. We respond by placing another 6 bills in  Parliament that if implemented in their spirit, will ensure not only that  dishonesty is punished but also that honest officers are protected.

People demand higher incomes and greater prosperity. We respond by  enforcing a minimum wage and giving them the highest growth rate in  India’s history.

It’s easy to pretend that all this is just a matter of passing orders and  directives but it isn’t. It takes time. It takes sustained commitment. Real  change is structural and for that, we need to work continuously through  legislation, reform and sustained political effort.

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