New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday expressed its willingness to ally “with all like-minded parties” with a “pragmatic approach” to defeat the Narendra Modi government in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with party chief Rahul Gandhi stating that the country was feeling tired and seeking a change.
The party’s 84th plenary saw party leaders making strident attacks on the Modi government on a range of issues including corruption, problems of farmers and unemployment with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi terming the ruling alliance as “arrogant”, “power-drunk”, “dictatorial” and only working to finish the Congress in the nearly four years of its rule.
Sonia Gandhi sought to enthuse party rank and file for the challenging battles ahead, including the Karnataka assembly elections later this year, saying Congress’ victory was the country’s victory.
In an indication of how the party plans to defeat to BJP-led coalition in the 2019, she recalled the flexibility shown by the party in favour of alliances ahead of 2004 Lok Sabha polls to hand out an unexpected thrashing to the then NDA government.
She accused Modi of indulging in “dramabaazi” (gimmicks)” to earn votes.
Rahul Gandhi set the tone of the plenary with his brief but succinct speech, saying that the meeting was aimed at setting the future direction not only of the Congress but of the entire country.
Seeking to tap into the perceived rural distress and growing need of jobs for youth, he said various sections were feeling disenchanted under the BJP.
“The crores of youth, who are feeling tired today, when they look towards Modi, they are unable to see a way forward. They do not know from where will they get employment, when will farmers get proper price for their crops. The country is in a way tired, is seeking a way out.
“And I say from my heart that only the Congress can show the path to the country,” Gandhi said to loud cheers.
“The aim of plenary is to show the path forward to the Congress and the country. It is talking of the future, it is talking of change,” he said.
The plenary, which will conclude on Sunday, adopted a political resolution and another on agriculture, employment and poverty alleviation.
“Congress will adopt a pragmatic approach for cooperation with all like-minded parties and evolve a common workable programme to defeat the BJP-RSS in the 2019 elections,” the political resolution said, but also noted that “a resurgent Congress alone” shall win back the idea of India as envisioned by the nation’s founding fathers.
It said all sections have been “betrayed” by the BJP-led government and core constitutional values were under attack.
The resolution also claimed that the Indian tradition and the essence of Hinduism has been all encompassing and upholder of composite culture. “It is distinct and must not be confused with Hindutva, which is essentially a political ideology.”
Sonia Gandhi, in her hard-hitting 15-minute speech, asked party workers to again make the Congress a party that sets the fundamental agenda of the country.
“In the last four years, to destroy the Congress, the arrogant and drunk-with-power Modi government has left no stone unturned. There is open play of allurement, money, repression and discrimination but the Congress has never bowed to arrogance of power and will never bow in the future.
“Rather, the Congress is putting up a struggle to expose the dictatorial ways of the Modi government, its neglect of Constitution, disrespect of Parliament, false cases against the opposition and its harassment of the media,” she said.
She said Modi’s 2014 slogans of “development for all” and “no tolerance for graft” were only gimmicks to grab power.
The resolution also targeted the government on the issue of corruption, referring to over Rs 13,000 crore PNB bank fraud case.
It accused the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and their affiliates of creating an environment of distrust, fear and intimidation.
Citing apprehensions on the misuse of the electronic voting machine (EVMs), the Congress on Saturday said that the Election Commission should revert to the old practice of paper ballot and slammed BJP’s move for simultaneous elections.
The party said the party would impose a five per cent cess on incomes of top one per cent richest Indians to create National Poverty Alleviation Fund.
The plenary,being held after eight years, had stamp of Rahul Gandhi with several party workers and young leaders speaking on resolutions. Unlike past plenaries, the leaders did not sit on the dais. There were panel discussions on several themes.