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Congress Plenary Day 2: Rahul starts Mission 2019

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 19 March 2018, 0:53 IST

On the last day of Congress’ 84th plenary session, party president Rahul Gandhi gave a sneak peek into the roadmap that will help in building a stronger and more vibrant Congress to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Promising to deliver on the plenary’s theme of ‘Change is Here’, Rahul gave impetus on giving prominence to ordinary workers over veteran leaders to create a more robust Congress. 

Speaking during the concluding session of the two-day plenary, the Congress president claimed that there existed a wall between the grassroots-level workers and senior leadership and that his motive was to demolish that wall to ensure representation of ordinary workers in the party. “We have to change the Congress. There is a wall between our leaders and workers. My first task will be to break that wall. I will consult senior leaders to destroy that wall with love,” he said. 

His remarks were greeted by a thunderous applause and loud slogans of ‘Rahul Gandhi zindabad’ from the audience who had gathered in the national capital for the two-day event. In fact, this plenary was a complete departure from its previous avatars where senior leaders were seated on the dais. This time around the dais was left empty with all senior Congress leaders seated with the other delegates only separated by barricades.

“Do you know why this stage has been left empty? It is because I want to see ordinary party workers to rise and take their place on this stage. In the past, we had leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose. I want to create that Congress of the past where anyone can lead the party,” he added. 

Moreover, what made this plenary stand out from the rest was how a lot of young leaders were given a chance to speak at the forum which was refreshing to see. In the past, senior leadership hogged all the limelight while young leaders were confined to the sidelines. 

Citing example of the recently held Gujarat Assembly elections, Rahul pointed how involving Congress workers paid huge dividends. “When we gave tickets to Congress workers in Gujarat, Modiji was seen flying away in seaplane. When we truly empower Congress workers, PM Modi will be seen in submarine,” he added. 

Meanwhile, during his 53-minute long speech, Rahul devoted most of his time making stinging attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP and the RSS. In a veiled attack on BJP President Amit Shah, Rahul said, “People will accept a man accused of murder as the president of the party, but they will never ever accept the same in the Congress party because they hold Congress in the highest regard.”

The 47-year-old was particularly critical of the Modi government and likened the prevailing political situation in the country to Mahabharata. Comparing BJP and RSS to Kauravas and Congress to Pandavas, he said, “Centuries ago there was a huge battle on the field of Kurukshetra. The Kauravas were powerful and arrogant. The Pandavas were humble and fought for the truth. Like Kauravs, BJP is designed to fight for power, but like the Pandavs Congress will fight for the truth." 

Labelling the Modi government as corrupt, the Gandhi scion said the people of the country hold Congress to a higher standard while the ruling dispensation is corrupt and controls the conversation in the country. Accusing Modi of colluding with crony capitalists, Gandhi cited examples of Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi and said “so what does Modi actually mean? It symbolises the collusion between India's biggest crony capitalists & PM. It is interesting that the man who looted banks, Nirav Modi shares a similar name to PM and the most corrupt man in Cricket also shares the same name Modi.” 

Accusing the Prime Minister of diverting attention from real issues, he added that while farmers and unemployed youth suffered, Modi is asking people to do yoga. “There is no employment. Farmers are dying. And Modiji says, 'Chalo, India Gate Ke Saamne Yoga Karte Hain’.” He was particulalry critical of the RSS which he said was spreading fear and trying to subvert institutions like judiciary, Parliament and the police. 

Speaking on the recent controversy where four Supreme Court judges decided to go to media to highlight certain issues, Rahul said, “People of India go to the courts for justice. For the first time, four judges of the Supreme Court had to come to the people for justice. There is a difference between the RSS and the Congress. We respect the country's institutions whereas they want to finish them. They only want one institution and that is the RSS.”

Meanwhile, the last day of the session also witnessed former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh taking the stage and accusing Modi of making “jumla-type” statements. “I would only say that the BJP Government made tall promises. Modi ji himself said we will double farmers’ incomes in six years time. If you have to double farmers’ incomes in six years time, you need a growth rate of 12 per cent per annum as the minimum. And that is unthinkable. Therefore, it is one of those statements, which is merely a Jumla-type statement, which is not likely to be achieved and Modi ji himself recognises that these are tall promises."

The former prime minister also spoke briefly on the prevailing situation in Kashmir and accused the Modi government of mismanaging the region. “At the same time, we also must recognise that the Modi government has mismanaged the Jammu and Kashmir problem as never before. They have installed a government, where the two wings of the Government are working against each other. The atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir is deteriorating day in and day out,” he added. 

The last day of the plenary also witnessed two resolutions on foreign policy and economy being presented. The resolution on economy was moved by former finance minister P Chidambaram who claimed that if the prevailing situation continues, it will witness the next government facing a major economic crisis.

During his address, Chidambaram accused the Prime Minister of pushing people into poverty and claimed that the banking sector is in crisis because of mounting non-performing assets. Continuing his criticism of demonetisation and hastily implemented GST, the former finance minister said that these twin moves led to destruction of jobs.

“One party which can pull this country out of crisis is the Congress party. I say that not out of arrogance, not out of conceit. I say that because we have done it before and we will do it again,” he stated. In an uncharacteristic combative mood, Chidambaram, whose son is being investigated on charges of graft, said how many of those present would have felt that he would not be speaking from the dais and even present the economic resolution.

Congress also passed another resolution giving Rahul all the powers to constitute a new CWC. The previous CWC was disbanded in wake of the plenary session leading to speculations of CWC being elected through elections. However, that was not supposed to be as it took the party four minutes to give Rahul the absolute power to form his own team.

First published: 19 March 2018, 0:53 IST