Cadre First, Leaders Later: Rahul at Congress Plenary Session

On the second day of the 84th Plenary Session of the Congress in New Delhi on 18 March, Congress President Rahul Gandhi delivered the closing speech with jibes and attacks on the Modi Government.

Prior to his speech, former finance minister P Chidambaram presented the economic proposal of the party.

  • Congress President Rahul Gandhi delivers the closing speech at the 84th Congress Plenary Session
  • Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram presented the Economic Proposal.

Stay tuned for all the live updates from the Congress Plenary session.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi Delivers the Closing Speech at Party's 84th Plenary Session

While delivering the closing speech at the 84th Congress Plenary session, party president Rahul Gandhi said, “The BJP is the voice of an organisation & the Congress is the voice of a nation.”

"They tell Muslims of India who never went to Pakistan and supported this great nation, ‘You don’t belong here’. They tell the Tamils, ‘Change your beautiful language’, they tell people of North-East, ‘We don’t like what you eat’, they tell women, ‘Dress properly or we’ll thrash you’." - Rahul Gandhi, Congress President

“They told Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi, question us and you will die. They tell our honest businessman to shut up and allow corrupt officers to extort their hard earned money. They tell our farmers to work for nothing,” he continued.

He also admitted that the last Congress govt was not able to stand up to the expectations of the people. He said, “I don't say it with happiness but the last govt we formed did not stand up to the expectations of the people. The people of the country were let down by us.”

He said his first priority will be to break the ‘wall’ between Congress leadership and party workers.

He continues, “The PM diverts our attention and jumps from one event to another from Gabbar Singh tax to yoga in Parliament but never talks about the issues. But, the Congress cannot be stopped from seeking the truth and justice.”

Attacking the Modi government for the Nirav Modi Scam, Gandhi said, “What does Modi actually mean? The name Modi symbolises the collusion between India's biggest crony capitalists and the prime minister of India.”

Amid Loud Cheers, Navjot Singh Sidhu Takes Stage

Amid loud cheers, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu took stage at the 84th Congress Plenary Session in New Delhi. He advised Rahul Gandhi to embrace Congress workers who can help him hoist the national flag from The Red Fort in 2019.

Owing to his natural sense of humour, he chuckled at Manmohan Singh and said, “Aap Sardaar bhi hai, Asaardar bhi.”

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram Presents Economic Proposal

Former finance minister P Chidambaram, while presenting the economic proposal of the party, said:

"I am here because I draw my strength from each one of you. There is a steel instilled in me that comes from the 45 years of my association with the Congress.   "

He also spoke about the current phase of economic growth, while also strongly condemning demonetisation:

"The current phase of economic growth started in the 1990s when Rajiv Gandhi sowed the seeds of liberalisation. This gained momentum under Dr Manmohan Singh. Whatever the BJP, the NDA may say, these records speak for themselves. As for demonetisation, there can’t have been a greater lie. Why has the RBI not been able to complete the counting of currency returned? I want to tell the RBI officials – ‘go to Hundi collectors in Tirupati... they count money faster than you.’" - P Chidambaram, former finance minister

Chidambaram also claimed that it was the Modi government that had pushed people into poverty.

"The biggest achievement of Dr Manmohan Singh was that 14 crore people were lifted out of poverty. The BJP govt pushed people into poverty – the number of people below the poverty line went up. It’s the greatest disservice that the BJP govt did to the people of India.   "

CWC Authorises Rahul to Pick Apex Body Members

The Congress, on its second day of its plenary session, unanimously passed a resolution at its plenary session, authorising party president Rahul Gandhi to choose members of the new working committee.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad moved a resolution, proposing that the new party chief selects his own team of the working committee, the highest decision-making body of the party.

Azad earlier asked the delegates whether there should be an election for the working committee, an idea which was outrightly rejected by them.

The Congress president will have to set up a new CWC in place of the steering committee which was formed after the working committee was dissolved by him.

The working committee will be established after the plenary session.

Manmohan Singh Addresses Congress Plenary Session

Addressing fellow Congress members at the 84th Plenary Session in New Delhi on Sunday, 18 March, former prime minister Mamohan Singh attacked the Narendra Modi government for not living up to the “jumla” promises that the BJP made during election campaigns.

“When Modi ji was campaigning, he made lots of tall promises. Those promises have not been fulfilled. He said we will provide 2 crore jobs, we have not seen even 2 lakh jobs... The BJP government made tall promises. Modi ji himself said that they will double farmers’ income in six years. If you have to do that, you do need a growth rate of 12 percent per annum at least, which is unthinkable,” Singh said.

Quoting the Economic Survey report, the former PM said agricultural growth has been stagnant since the last four years, adding that Modi’s agricultural promises are "jumla type statements.”

He also said that the Modi government has mismanaged the Kashmir problem like never before. “The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is deteriorating day in and day out... due to cross-border terrorism or internal terrorism,” Singh said.

When it comes to India’s relationship with Pakistan, Singh suggested that the two countries sit together peacefully to discuss their ties. India should let Pakistan know that it will not tolerate the the cross-border terrorism.

Congress Releases It's Foreign Policy Resolution

Releasing it’s foreign policy resolution on day two of the Congress plenary session in New Delhi on Sunday, 18 March, the Grand Old Party of India criticised the Narendra Modi government’s foreign policy, especially with the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and China.

“There is is a disturbing increase in hostile actions, including shelling by Pakistani Armed Forces along our borders and the LoC.

“Confronting cross-border terrorism with robust security response, has enjoyed across the board national consensus. Regrettably, this is being undermined by the government by making policiy towards Pakistan a divisive domestic issue,” the foreign resolution.

On China, the Congress said, “Our approach to China must not be only marked with pragmatism, but also realism. It should remain our endeavour to work for peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues.”

PM Carried His Own Propaganda: Anand Sharma

On the second day of the 84th Congress Plenary Session, senior leader Anand Sharma said, “The Narendra Modi government has disrupted India's foreign policy. In the last four years they have made this a divisive policy. They have pursued this in a cavalier manner, non-serious manner.”

“The PM is carried away by his own propaganda. Today it is a matter of concern that we have mismanaged our relations with major capitals of the world, with major strategic partners and our immediate neighbourhood,” Sharma said.

Watch: AICC Plenary Session Day One Roundup

What does the seating arrangement at the AICC plenary session say about the message the party is trying to send out ahead fo 2019? Neeraj Gupta and Aviral Virk report.

Posted by The Quint on  Saturday, March 17, 2018

BJP Responds to Sonia's Speech

Responding to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s address in the Congress plenary session, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that her agenda was to promote the Gandhi family.

"Sonia Gandhi has only one agenda, promote one family and promote Rahul Gandhi as Congress President. Rahul Gandhi has completely failed as a leader. Agenda of Modi government is to promote 125 Crore Indians. Come 2019, the 125 Crore people will once again vote for him." - Sambit Patra, BJP Spokesperson

Centre Has Replaced Swaminathan Committee With ‘Jumlanathan Committee’: Surjewala

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Modi government has betrayed farmers like no one else has.

"Narendra Modi’s government scrapped farmers’ Swaminathan Committee and replaced it with ‘Jumlanathan Committee’." - Randeep Surjewala

Bangladesh PM Sends Her Best Wishes for Plenary

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina recalled the “extraordinary support” extended to Bangladesh by former prime minister Indira Gandhi and has sent her best wishes for the 84th Plenary Session of the Congress.

Congress Will Keep Exposing Government's Lies: Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi, while addressing party members at the Congress Plenary session accused the Modi government of weakening and ignoring the schemes and programs implemented during the UPA regime.

She also said that the Congress party was dedicated towards exposing the government’s fraud and lies using proofs. She said that PM Modi and his ministers are drunk on power.

She also stressed upon the importance of strengthening the party. She also spoke about the strength of alliance with like-minded parties.

"Today a new chapter of the Congress party has begun. We need to build a nation that provides for every citizen. Every Congress member will dedicate their life to take this nation to great heights." - Sonia Gandhi

Have You Fulfilled Promises Made to Farmers?: Rahul Asks PM

Rahul Gandhi in a tweet attacked PM Modi over ‘unfullfiled promises’ to farmers and demanded a raise in the support price.

Sonia Gandhi Takes a Selfie

Sonia Gandhi took a candid selfie at the 84th Congress Plenary session. A picture shared by the Congress’ twitter account was captioned, “ Smt Sonia Gandhi sends a quick selfie and lots of love to all Congress men and women from the #CongressPlenary”

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also took a selfie “summing up” the mood in Congress plenary.

Rahul Will Be PM in 2019: Siddaramaiah

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, while addressing party members at the Congress Plenary Session, said that nobody can stop Rahul Gandhi from becoming the Prime Minister of the country in 2019.

PM Is Intolerant, Arrogant: Congress in Political Resolution

Excerpts from the Congress’ political resolution:

  • Women empowerment: While reaffirming its support for women’s reservation in Parliament and legislatures, the Congress demands that the government bring women’s reservation bill in parliament for passage and implementation before the 2019 General Election.
  • Youth: The plenary session indicts the BJP government of betraying the youth of India by not fulfilling the promised two crore jobs every year. The government not only failed to create jobs but through its decisions l, India lost millions of jobs in MSME and informal sector.
  • Atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis and Minorities: Minorities in the BJP rule have a general fear of insecurity. In a country where the Constitution guarantees freedom. It is unacceptable for the people to be told what to eat and what to wear. Congress remains committed to ensure the safety of all minorities as equal citizens and to protect their fundamental rights.
  • RSS-BJP: The prime minister and the BJP government are intolerant of any criticism and remain in arrogant denial. The RSS-BJP is misrepresenting, distorting and misusing religion to exploit the sentiments of the people and capture political power. The toxic mix of religion and politics poses a challenge to our pluralistic society and inclusive democracy. RSS which claims to be a social and cultural organisation, masquerades as sole representative of the Hindus.

Congress Releases Political Resolution

The Congress’ ‘political resolution’, that was released on 17 March, touched upon a number of factors – including women empowerment and soaring unemployment rates.

In the resolution, the Congress demanded the return of the practice of paper ballots, alleging a feeling of “apprehension among political parties and people over misuse of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to manipulate outcome contrary to popular verdict”

Congress Plenary - Final Draft on Political Resolution by The Quint on Scribd

Congress Party Belongs to Everyone Who Lives in the Nation: Kharge

Addressing party members at the Congress plenary session, Mallikarjun Kharge said that the Congress party belongs to everyone living in this country. He said that it was democracy that brought PM Modi to power but, ironically, his government itself has become a threat to democracy.

Congress Is India's Future, Says Rahul Gandhi

In his opening address at the 84th Congress Plenary session, Rahul Randhi said the symbol of the Congress was the only one “that can unite the nation and take it forward”. The Congress president accused the ruling BJP of using anger as a weapon.

"They (the BJP) use anger, we use love. But one thing that I want to say is that this country belongs to everyone – and whatever the Congress will do will be for the benefit for all." - Rahul Gandhi

2019 Vision Plan Will Be Talking Point: Priyanka Chaturvedi

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi told The Quint that the queries of the party workers will be heard and the motto of ‘change is now’ will be propagated.

She also said that the agenda and vision plan for 2019 will be the talking point.

Rahul, Sonia, Manmohan at Plenary Session

Among others, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Meira Kumar arrived at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi for the Congress Plenary session on the morning of 17 March.

Rahul Gandhi's Twitter Handle Renamed

The official Twitter account of Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi has been renamed @RahulGandhi from the former @OfficeOfRG.

Rahul Gandhi Welcomes Delegates

In a tweet on Saturday morning, Rahul Gandhi welcomed delegates and other guests to the Congress Plenary session.

Congress Plenary Session to Set the Tone For 2019

Sources told PTI that the party will adopt four resolutions – one each on the political situation, the economic front and the foreign affairs, besides a separate one on agriculture, unemployment and poverty alleviation. The party will highlight its vision on each sphere and compare it with the current situation.

The political resolution, the sources say, will also indicate the party’s plans for forging coalitions with like-minded parties.

Steering Committee Meets Ahead of Congress Plenary Session

Rahul Gandhi will present the party's vision and the way forward at the Congress Plenary session.

A meeting of the Congress Steering Committee was held at the Constitution Club of India in Delhi on 16 March, in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress leaders.

The plenary session is expected to set the tone for the party's poll strategy in the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections where it seeks to oust the BJP from power, reported PTI.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told ANI:

"[The Congress Plenary session] will decide the direction of the party for the next five years. It will be a workers’ plenary, the focus would be on workers and not leaders. " - Randeep Surjewala, Congress spokesperson

An inaugural session would be addressed by Rahul Gandhi on 17 March.

Since the Steering Committee will cease to exist after the plenary session, the new Working Committee (CWC) of the party will also be put in place soon.

There was no confirmation on whether the CWC would be formed during the session or after, but sources said it won't be an elected body and the party chief will select his own team, it was further reported by PTI.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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