UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed a general body meeting of Congress Parliamentary party on Wednesday in New Delhi. In the meeting that comes a few months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Sonia Gandhi made a blistering attack on the Narendra Modi government. Sonia Gandhi hailed the party’s victories in the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and said that these gave Congress new hope and the opponents who were earlier projected as invincible. Appreciating her son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the UPA chairperson said, “He has worked tirelessly and also reached out to other political parties who share our vision of India.”
“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. There is an all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and strife across the country, she claimed.
Here is the full text of Sonia Gandhi’s speech:
Congress President Rahul ji,
Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,
Ghulam Nabi Azadji,
Members of the CPP Executive,
I welcome you all to this meeting.
The 16th Lok Sabha will very soon pass into history.
The last five years have been a time of unprecedented economic stress and social strain for our country.
The very foundations of our democratic republic, of our secular republic have come under systematic assault by the Modi government. The very values, principles and provisions of our Constitution have come under continued attack by the Modi government.
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. People with opinions different from the ruling establishment have been victimized.
There is an all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and strife across the country. The North-East is burning. Alienation in Jammu & 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.
Bluff, bluster and intimidation have been the governance philosophy of the Modi government. Truth and transparency have been brazenly tossed aside.
Parliament itself has been immeasurably weakened. Debate and discussion are 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.
There is now near-universal recognition that the mandate of 2014 has been betrayed. I look upon this slightly differently. 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.
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. Our opponents were earlier projected as being invincible. The Congress President took them head-on, mobilizing and motivating lakhs of our workers who, with him, gave their all. We won in what were believed to be their strongholds. That demonstrated our resilience.
The people of our country are wise. They know that jumlabaazi is no substitute for sensitive and responsive governance. They know that imagery, stage management and marketing gimmicks can be no substitute for responsible and accountable governance. Above all, they have seen through and experienced the results of the many lies told to them.
But we cannot be complacent or take anything for granted. 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.
We must remember that unity, self-sacrifice and self-discipline are vital at all times. They are of even greater importance today - at this crucial moment of our nation’s history.
Friends, these last five years have been very trying times. But all of you MPs in both Houses, have done the best possible under the most difficult of circumstances. I know it has not been easy because democratic space—which is ours by right-- has been deliberately denied to us. But we have persevered and for that I congratulate all of you, senior and younger colleagues. I also want to say that Khargeji deserves our special thanks - for his contributions as leader of the Party in the Lok Sabha. He stood like a rock for his right to be heard in the face of clear bias. Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma too as Leader and Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Friends, our new President has brought fresh energy into our organization. He has put together a team which blends experience and youth well. He 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 organized and unorganized sector. I am sure he will share with you his thoughts.
Before I close, I want to wish you success in the coming elections, may you return victorious. Finally, allow me to express my gratitude to all of you for the support you have extended to me personally these last five years. 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.