New Delhi: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that "bluff, bluster and intimidation" have been Modi government's philosophy and hailed party president Rahul Gandhi for taking opponents "head-on".
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party's general body meeting, Sonia Gandhi also praised her son for bringing in fresh energy and putting together a team which blends experience and youth.
In a blistering attack on the Centre, Sonia Gandhi alleged that there is an "all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and strife" across the country.
"We go to the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls with renewed confidence and resolve. Our victories in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have given us new hope," she said at the meeting attended by Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad among others.
"Our opponents were earlier projected as being invincible. The Congress president took them head-on, mobilising and motivating lakhs of our workers who, with him, gave their all. We won in what were believed to be their strongholds," she said.
Slamming the Modi dispensation, the Congress Parliamentary Party leader said the foundations of "our democratic and secular republic" have come under "systematic assault" by the government.
The very values, principles and provisions of the Constitution have been under continued attack from the Modi government, she alleged. "Institutions have been subverted. Political opponents have been hounded. Dissent has been suppressed. Freedom of speech -- the most basic of all freedoms -- has been sought to be curtailed and silenced," the UPA chairperson said. "Bluff, bluster and intimidation have been the governance philosophy of the Modi government. Truth and transparency have been brazenly tossed aside," Sonia Gandhi alleged.
The last five years have been a time of unprecedented economic stress and social strain for the country, the former Congress president said. "The northeast is burning. Alienation in Jammu and Kashmir has scaled new heights. Dalits, adivasis and minorities are being targeted. Farmers are facing unprecedented distress. The youth is staring at the abyss of despair with jobs being destroyed on a scale that has never happened before," she said, lashing out at the Modi government's policies.
Sonia Gandhi also praised the Congress president for his leadership after taking over the reins of the party in December 2017.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) has worked tirelessly. He has also reached out to other political parties who share our vision of India, who share our agenda for faster economic growth with full social justice, who share our agenda for the welfare of kisans and khet-mazdoors, women and youth, workers in the organised and unorganised sector," the UPA chairperson said.
Rahul Gandhi, in a Facebook post, said the Congress Parliamentary Party met at Parliament House where some key political issues before the country were discussed.
"As we come to the end of the term of this Parliament, I'm grateful for the support and affection I've received from my Congress brothers and sisters in Parliament and thank them for their incredible hard work and dedication," he said.
Sonia Gandhi, in her remarks at the meeting, said the people of the country were wise and know that "jumlabaazi" (rhetoric) is no substitute for sensitive and responsive governance.
The people know that "imagery, stage management and marketing gimmicks" can be no substitute for responsible and accountable governance, she said. They have seen through and experienced the results of the many lies told to them, she said.
"Our political adversaries have unlimited resources at their command. They will have no scruples and will stoop to anything to ensure that our forward march is halted.
We will not allow them to succeed. We will confront them, we will fight them with all the vigour at our command and more," Sonia Gandhi said. She also claimed that Parliament has been "immeasurably weakened" and debate and discussion muzzled.
"The institution of Standing Committees has all but disappeared. The route of the Money Bill, described by one Supreme Court judge as a 'fraud on the Constitution', has been resorted to ever so often to escape legitimate scrutiny in both Houses," the Congress leader alleged. There is now "near-universal recognition" that the mandate of 2014 has been betrayed, she claimed.
"That mandate itself was obtained by deceit and dishonesty, by misleading the people. It was inevitable that it would be found out and exposed sooner or later. That is exactly what has happened," she said.
Sonia Gandhi also thanked the party's MPs for persevering despite "trying times" and democratic space being "denied" to them. "I have derived strength and succour from the goodwill, understanding and the commitment of each and every one of you. It is you, it is our great party, it is our precious legacy that has sustained me and that will continue to inspire me," she said.