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Scrap EVMs says Congress on Day 1 of Plenary. Sonia takes hard stance

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 17 March 2018, 19:32 IST

On Day 1 of Indian National Congresss two-day plenary session in Delhi Saturday senior Congress leaders sharpening their attack on bete noire Bharatiya Janata Party. Former party president Sonia Gandhi took the lead, lambasting the Narendra Modi government for being power hungry.

The “dramebaaz attitude” of the ruling dispensation will lead to Congress returning to power in Karnataka and that will provide a new direction to the country's politics, said Gandhi.

“Backed by evidence, we are continuously exposing the fraudulent promises and corrupt practices of Prime Minister Modi and his associates. People have now understood that slogans like 'sabka saath sabka vikas', ' na kahoonga na khaane doonga' and his Man ki Baat on radio were just gimmickry and a trick to get votes and the chair,” she added.

The results of the Gujarat Assembly elections and bye-polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh reflect that “those who wished to erase our existence had no clues that there is so much respect for the Congress,” said the leader. 

“In the last four years, this government has made every efforts to destroy Congress without realising that it has and will never bow down to the arrogance of power,” she said amid cheers and applause by thousands of party workers who gathered from across the country.

Urging the Congress workers to be ready to make sacrifices, she said: “ We need to struggle to make a India that is free of fear and intimidation. An India where each man can live with dignity. An India that is free of biases, vengeance and outcry.” 

She also said her son Rahul has taken over the Congress presidentship at a very challenging time. 

In his opening remarks, Rahul took pot shots at the BJP, claiming that attempts were being made to spread hatred and create divisions within the society. He highlighted how Indians were being pitted against each other and said: “Our work is to unite people.”

Speaking amidst slogans of 'Rahul Gandhi zindabad', the newly elected president said the biggest difference between the Congress and the BJP was that they use divisive politics while we use love and brotherhood. “I want to reiterate that this nation belongs to every religion, caste and person, and whatever Congress will do, it will do for the nation and no one will be left behind,” he added. 

Taking digs at Modi, the Congress president said the youth of the country have lost hope and whenever they look at the Prime Minister, they don't see any hope of securing employment. “The nation is in a way tired and looking for a way out and I can tell you with all my heart that only Congress is capable of showing them a way,” he said.

According to a political resolution passed, India's core constitutional values are under attack and freedom was in jeopardy with institutions under stress and their independence compromised. The political resolution particularly tore into the RSS for systematic assault on principles of Constitution and values of Indian republic. 

“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,” read the resolution moved by senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge. 

It accused the BJP government of brazenly misusing the constitutional office of governors and resorting to unethical means to destabilise elected governments, hijack popular mandates and foisting governments by manufacturing majority. The resolution read: “Congress deplores the government for undermining the established norms of governance and subversion of educational, cultural and historical institutions, facilitating their capture by the BJP's ideological affiliates. RSS infiltration of every Institution, Administration and the Universities, poses a threat to pluralism and Indian Democracy. The centralisation of authority, arbitrary and partisan decision making, has cast a dark shadow on Parliamentary democracy.” (sic)

The resolution demanded that to ensure the credibility of the electoral process, the Election Commission should revert to the old practice of ballot papers instead of electronic voting machines (EVM) as emulated by other democracies world over. 

Until now, Congress had never raised the EVM issue from a party platform and this marks a major shift in its views over EVMs. “There are apprehensions among the Political Parties and the people over the misuse of EVMs to manipulate the outcome contrary to the popular verdict,” the resolution noted. 

The resolution also dismissed Modi's idea of holding simultaneous polls and called it “impractical” and “incompatible with Constitution”. The party noted that if allowed, it could have serious implications which must be thoroughly “enquired into” and a national consensus be built around it.

The party decided to adopt a pragmatic approach to co-operation with like-minded parties and evolve a common workable programme to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Earlier in 1998, during the Panchmarhi session, party leaders had unanimously decided to not allign with any party. However, five years later in 2003, the party decided to have an understanding with other like-minded parties which led to UPA coming to power in 2004.

Meanwhile, the party also passed another resolution on 'Agriculture, Employment & Poverty Alleviation' wherein it made several promises to address these issues. For the farm sector, one of the most prominent promises of the party is to bring a loan waiver scheme for all small and marginal farmers on the pattern of the farm loan waiver program of the UPA govt in 2009 benefitting 3.2 crore farmers.

Resolving to bring in a farmer centric paradigm shift in the Indian agriculture, the party accused the BJP of duping farmers by making empty noises of doubling farm income by 2022. 

“The crop insurance scheme brought by the government has benefited private insurance companies more than the farmer as money is taken away from the bank accounts of farmers, without their consent,” read the resolution. Similar promises were made for creating employment and poverty alleviation during the first day of the plenary.

First published: 17 March 2018, 19:32 IST