Updated: February 8, 2018 11:48:16 am
Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday said 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. Gandhi said 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 this morning, adding that institutions were being ‘destroyed’.
“It has been almost four years since this government came to power. This has been a period in which institutions that are at the foundation of our democracy have come under systematic assault—Parliament itself, the judiciary, media and civil society,” she said.
Maximum Marketing, Minimum Delivery
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 and 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.”
On Kashmir, where is the healing touch?
Sonia Gandhi also questioned the government’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir saying violence continued in the state and there was little being done to boost 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 Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister?”
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 thatthe 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.”
Work to revive Congress under Rahul Gandhi
Sonia also congratulated newly-elected party chief Rahul Gandhi saying she hoped the party will work cohesively to revive their electoral fortunes. “I wish him all the very best. He is now my boss too—let there be no doubt about that – and I know that all of you will work with him with the same dedication, loyalty and enthusiasm as you did with me,” Gandhi said.
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