Ahmedabad: The Congress on Tuesday kicked off its Lok Sabha poll campaign from Gujarat, challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and accusing him of “cynically exploiting” the issue of national security to divert attention from his “colossal failures” and “persistent falsehoods”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said “no sacrifice is too great and no effort is too little to keep the BJP and RSS out of power”, as the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in its first meeting in Gujarat in 58 years, deliberated political strategy in Ahmedabad and decided to seek a mandate for change in the Lok Sabha elections for providing better governance and repair the damage caused to the economy and the country by the BJP government. The meeting coincided with the 89th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March launched on March 12, 1930.
The party’s Gujarat offensive also saw Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was appointed party general secretary two months back, launch her first political rally in Ahmedabad by taking on the Prime Minister Narendra over “unfulfilled” promises.
Urging people to vote for Congress, Ms Vadra said, “There is no bigger patriotism than to be an aware citizen, your awareness is a weapon, your vote is a weapon… Only you can protect the country.” Earlier, ‘Indira Zindabad’ slogans and cutouts of the late PM greeted Ms Vadra at her maiden public speech. Amid political symbolism, the Congress sought to project the 2019 elections as a battle of
Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of India versus Nathuram Godse’s idea of India even as the CWC also reaffirmed its commitment to serve the country and the people in its endeavour for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.
“The CWC assures the people that the Congress party believes in what it promises and has proven its credibility on delivering the same,” the party’s resolution said.
The committee, in its resolution, blamed Mr Modi for not fulfilling the promises he had made five years ago, and accused him and his party of making “deliberate attempts to attack constitutional institutions and weakening them”.
The party’s highest decision-making body, which met for the first time after the announcement of Lok Sabha poll dates on March 10, was chaired by the Congress president and attended by senior leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ms Vadra.
“An atmosphere of fear and insecurity is all pervasive particularly among women, students, academics, writers and the business community; there are deliberate attacks on the constitutional and other safeguards for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and minorities; and there is subversion of all institutions of governance,” the strongly worded resolution said.
In his speech at the CWC meeting held at Sardar Patel National Memorial, Mr Gandhi underlined the need to fight divisive forces together and said, “On the anniversary of Gandhi ji’s historic Dandi March, the CWC Committee in Ahmedabad, resolved to defeat the RSS/BJP ideology of fascism, hatred, anger and divisiveness.”
Sources said say that important like the minimum income support scheme were discussed in the meeting as part of the election strategy. The party’s election manifesto, possible alliance with other parties and need to strengthen booth management were the other topics discussed at length in the meeting.
The Congress said it will approach people with humility to seek their support in the general elections for itself and its allies in different states.
The party said it seeks a “mandate for better governance and accountability, to repair the grave damage caused to our democratic polity, economy and society by the Modi government, a mandate for change to restore the health of the Indian economy, for job creation, social justice and harmony”.
“The Congress expresses its strong disappointment that the Prime Minister is cynically exploiting the issue of national security, on which we are all united, to divert attention from his colossal failures, bogus claims and persistent falsehoods,” the resolution passed by the CWC said.
The CWC sends a “stern and unequivocal” message to India’s enemies that the country stands united and resolute as one to confront and defeat their nefarious agenda, it said.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “It is unfortunate that PM Modi and the BJP are spreading hate for political gain. To hide the failure of the government, they are misleading the people of the country and playing with national security.”
He said that the Congress is “confident” of winning the general election. “We will not allow Mr Modi and the BJP to play with the emotions of the people,” he said.
“By making wrong decisions, the Modi government has destroyed the economy of the country. People had to suffer due to demonetisation and wrong implementation of GST. Dr Manmohan Singh also raised concerns over agricultural and job crisis in the meeting,” Mr Sharma said.
He added, “In the backdrop of the Pulwama terrorist attack, the nation spoke in one voice. Our party stood with the government, but to divert the attention of the people Mr Modi and the BJP are trying to question others’ patriotism.
By launching its poll campaign from Gujarat, the Congress has sought to send a strong message to the BJP and the government that it will fight back strongly and not allow the narrative to be taken away from real issues confronting the people, instead of rhetoric that the BJP wants to focus on.
The party earlier started the day by paying rich tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram. The day also marks the anniversary of the historic
Dandi March, started by Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 1930.
The day also saw Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel join the Congress in the presence of party president.
At the party rally in Ahmedabad, Mr Patel said that he has joined the Congress to serve people. While raising the slogan of “Chowkidar he chor hey”, he asked the gathering, “Is my decision to join the Congress right?” The crowd responded saying yes.