Sonia Gandhi Calls Rahul Gandhi Her Boss, Says Congress’s Fortune Will Revive Under Him
New Delhi, February 8: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday called the new party president Rahul Gandhi “her boss too” and said there should be no doubt about it. She said that she is confident that party’s fortune will revive under Rahul’s leadership and added that “winds of change are coming”.
The grand-old party was mauled at the hands of Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was reduced to 44 seats in the 543-member House. Sonia has called upon party leaders, workers to start preparing for the 2019 General Elections and said, “No doubt 2014 was a severe setback, but I am convinced that it was an aberration. We must not only highlight the abject failures of the Modi government but more importantly, build a positive and credible narrative for ourselves on issues of public concern.”
In her address to Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), Sonia hit out at the Narendra Modi government for failing to fulfil tall promises made during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “The arrogance and dishonesty of tells us that the Modi government is out of touch with reality, and lives by its own propaganda and lies.”
Sonia also the Modi government of changing the name of schemes launched by previous Congress-led UPA government and said “it seems to be a game of Maximum Publicity, Minimum Government, or put another way, Maximum Marketing, Minimum Delivery”.
Here is the full text of Sonia’s CPP address:
It has been quite a long while since we met as a group and for this I seek your indulgence. In the meantime, we have elected a new Congress President and on your behalf and on my own, 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. I am confident that we will work cohesively under his leadership to revive our Party’s fortunes. That process has begun. We performed very creditably under tough circumstances in Gujarat and the recent by-election results in Rajasthan were huge. This shows that the winds of change are coming. I take this opportunity to warmly congratulate the leaders and the thousands of workers who brought us these results in both the States. I am sure that very soon the election results in Karnataka too will underline the resurgence of the Congress.
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. Investigative agencies have been let loose against political opponents. 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.
Tall claims are being made of so-called economic achievements, but the reality is quite different. Agriculture continues to be in deep distress and the desperation of farmers is sadly evident in the number of suicides.
The rural economy and small and medium enterprises, are in shambles. Unemployment is staring at our youth. New jobs are not only not being created, but existing jobs themselves are being lost. Employment cannot happen without new investments and the fact is that there has been a marked decline in the rate of investment over the past four years. The last budget is full of sleights of hand – of jumlas — such as the oft-repeated but impossible to achieve promise to double farmer incomes in five years, and the promises of increased support prices without clarifying their basis. The disinvestment figures have been exaggerated by including the sale of equity in one public sector company to another, a revised health insurance scheme has been passed off as new and proposed without adequate preparation or worse, budgetary support.
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. The arrogance and dishonesty of this tells us that the Modi government is out of touch with reality, and lives by its own propaganda and lies. We need no further evidence of this than the Prime Minister’s speech in the Lok Sabha yesterday morning.
As we look around us, we see a deeply troubled country and deeply troubled people. Jammu and Kashmir continues to bleed. We share the anguish of our brothers and sisters in that state. 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 Nagaland, an accord was announced with great fanfare more than two years ago. We are still awaiting its details.
The minorities feel unsafe and are being subjected to barbarous attacks. Dalits have come under renewed and widespread atrocities,as have women. In many cases this violence, specially against minorities and dalits is not sporadic or random, but orchestrated to polarize our society for narrow political gains. We saw this in both UP and Gujarat. We will no doubt see it again in Karnataka. Such polarization is criminal in a democracy, yet those in power look the other way.
And what do we make of the government resorting to fictitious arguments to justify the secrecy about the price of one of India’s biggest defence purchases – the Rafael fighter aircraft ? Or its refusal to respond to wholly justified demands to satisfactorily investigate certain sensitive legal cases of far reaching political consequence.
If someone can say what foreign policy this government believes it is pursuing, we would all be enlightened.Relations with some of our most important neighbours have never been as bad as they are now. Personalized diplomacy and public bear-hugsare all very well but there is no substitute for institutionalized processes, for hard work and preparation, and for continuity in our national policies.
Friends, 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. We have demonstrated our resilience before and we are now called upon to do so again. For this we must not only highlight the abject failures of the Modi government but more importantly, build a positive and credible narrative for ourselves on issues of public concern.
As for myself, as Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, I will work with the Congress President and other colleagues in discussions with like-minded, political parties to ensure that in the next election, the BJP is defeated and India is restored to a democratic, inclusive, secular, tolerant and economically progressive path.