: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi pay tribute to Babu Jagjivan Ram on his birth anniversary, at Parliament in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (PTI/Shahbaz Khan)
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday called for unity at all levels of the organisation, while noting that the road ahead for the party is more challenging than ever before and the spirit of resilience of party workers is under severe test.
Addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), she also hit out at the BJP, saying the ruling party's "divisive agenda" has become a regular feature of political discourse in all states and that history is being "mischievously distorted" to add fuel to its agenda.
Referring to the party's performance in recent assembly elections, she said she is aware "how disappointed you are" as they have been both "shocking and painful".
She said the CWC has met to review the performance and received many suggestions on how to strengthen the organisation, many of which are pertinent and the party is working on them.
Gandhi stressed that holding a 'Shivir' is also very necessary as views of a larger number of colleagues and party representatives will be heard and they will contribute to put forward a clear roadmap on the urgent steps to be taken by the party on how best to meet the challenges we are confronted with.
"The road ahead is more challenging than ever before. Our dedication and determination, our spirit of resilience is under severe test. Unity at all levels of our vast organisation is of paramount importance," she said adding that she is determined to do whatever is needed to ensure it.
"Our revival is not just a matter of importance to us alone. It is, in fact, essential for our democracy itself and indeed for our society as well," Gandhi said.
The Congress chief has been under attack from the G-23 within, who have demanded an overhaul of the organisation and have stressed on collective leadership after the party's recent debacle in assembly polls.
She expressed concern over MSMEs being in a "most precarious condition" and no sign that commitments made to farmers are going to be fulfilled in any significant manner.
Noting that prices of cooking gas and oil, petrol, diesel, fertilizers and other essential commodities have risen to unbearable limits and continue to rise, she said the nationwide "Mehngai-mukt Bharat" campaign must be sustained.
She said in matters of governance, it is inevitable that some do the real work and lay the foundations while others claim the credit.
"I am glad that at least two landmark initiatives of the Congress-led UPA government much criticised by no less a person than the prime minister have turned out to be saviours for crores of our people in the last two years," she said referring to the National Food Security Act and Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
"The divisive and polarising agenda of the ruling party and its leaders has now become a regular feature of the political discourse in state after state. History, not just ancient but also contemporary, is mischievously distorted and facts are maliciously invented to add fuel to this agenda.It is for us all to stand up and confront these forces of hate and prejudice," she charged.
"We will not allow them to damage the bonds of amity and harmony that have sustained and enriched our diverse society for centuries," she told party MPs of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Accusing the ruling establishment of targeting the opposition, its leaders and workers, she said the full might of the state machinery is unleashed against them. "Maximum governance to those in power clearly means spreading maximum fear and intimidation," she charged and added such blatant threats and tactics will neither frighten or silence us nor will we get cowed down.
The meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, the first one being held after the party's debacle in recent assembly elections in five states, was attended by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, besides all party MPs in both houses of Parliament.
The Congress has been seeking to corner the government on the issue of inflation and rise in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG gas.
The Congress chief also noted with satisfaction that the value of non-alignment as a foundational principle of the nation's foreign policy, that was criticised so much, has now been rediscovered even though it may not be acknowledged.
Raising the the issue of students evacuated from Ukraine, she said they need to be assured at the earliest.
She also said that there was a need to address the continuing astronomical cost of medical education in the country.
Gandhi also lauded the contribution of senior party leaders, who have retired from Parliament, and hoped they would continue to remain involved in public and political life, and work to strengthen the party.