Cong singles out BJP, rest is pre-poll maths


Declaring the BJP as its “enemy number one” politically and ideologically, the 83rd Congress Plenary Session on Sunday said the RSS and the VHP are insidious in their efforts to break India.
The two-day party plenary, which began Sunday, saw attacks on the main Opposition in the political resolution and speeches against the backdrop of the 2G, CWG and Adarsh Housing Society scams, Radiagate, the logjam in the Winter Session of parliament and the Bihar electoral defeat.
While the draft political resolution was harsh in its attack on the BJP, the Sangh Parivar and the Left, it was comparatively soft on the regional parties. Though it criticised the Telugu Desam Party and the Biju Janata Dal — its main rivals in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa — and the Janata Dal (U), it did not attack the AIADMK, the Janata Dal (S) or even the Shiv Sena or Shiromani Akali Dal. Moreover, there was no word about the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party and the RJD, who are backing the Congress-led UPA at the Centre but opposing it in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
On the corruption issue, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi announced a five-point programme on how to tackle it. If the two Cs —- corruption and communalism — dominated the first day of the session, Mrs Gandhi virtually set the tone of the action plan for the rank and file to counter the Opposition campaign ahead of Assembly elections in five states and the coming together of the non-UPA parties on an anti-Congress plank.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, stressed the need to connect the aam aadmi (common man) to the system.
The party plenary, attended by over 15,000 delegates, heard Mrs Gandhi as well as her son Rahul Gandhi calling for strict and speedy action against corruption, including cases involving politicians and bureaucrats, in a “defined time-frame”. In her presidential address on the opening day of the two-day conclave at Burari on the outskirts of Delhi, Mrs Gandhi unveiled a five-point action plan that included fast-tracking all cases against public servants, including politicians “like us”.
She called for taking forward the proposal of state funding of elections, legislative and clear procedures to ensure transparency in public procurement and shedding of discretionary powers by chief ministers and all ministers, including at the Centre, specially in land allotments, as they “breed corruption”.
Mr Rahul Gandhi confined his speech to corruption without touching on the issues of communalism and terror.
The Congress plenary raised the pitch against the saffron forces by demanding a probe into their “links” with terror after Mrs Gandhi condemned both majority and minority communalism as dangerous and said it should be defeated. The plenary unanimously adopted a political resolution which said that “links” between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations have been “uncovered” in recent cases. “The Indian National Congress calls upon the government to tackle this menace in the strongest possible manner and investigate links between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations that have been uncovered in some recent cases,” said the resolution proposed by senior leader Pranab Mukherjee and seconded by Mr Digvijay Singh and others, including Mr Rahul Gandhi.
The role of religious fundamentalist groups challenging the security of the nation can no longer be ignored, the party said in the resolution that was discussed for over five hours. Led by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress launched a strident attack on the Sangh Parivar with leaders like Mr Mukherjee referring to Pune and other blasts where right-wing groups have been suspected of having played a role.
In her 30-minute address, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said, “The Congress party makes no distinction between organisations of the majority and of the minority communities who indulge in communalism and related acts of terrorism. They are all dangerous, they must all be defeated.” Maintaining that the Congress has always fought against all forms of communalism, regardless of their source, she said “communalism is the abuse of religion for narrow political purposes”.
“It is the abuse of religion and to spread hatred and bigotry. It is the abuse of religion to polarise our society and to divide us,” she said, adding that the country cannot ignore the pernicious impact of individuals, institutions and ideologies that distort history and thrive on spreading religious prejudice and inciting people to violence using religion as a cover.
At a time when the Congress and the government were on the backfoot in the wake of a series of scams, Mr Rahul Gandhi said the corrupt should be severely punished. “Whatever the Congress president has said on the issue has given us inspiration to fight corruption. We require accountability... Severe punishment should be given to the corrupt,” he said while participating in the debate on the political resolution. Mr Gandhi, like his mother, took pot-shots at party ministers and chief ministers, asking them to “spare some time for the organisation and party workers”.
Without referring to the 2G spectrum allocation scam or the CWG mess or the Adarsh housing scandal, he prefaced his remarks by noting that a number of issues relating to corruption have recently surfaced. He said corruption snatches away the common man’s opportunity to progress. Incidentally, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, during her presidential address, also did not mention any of the scams.
“Many ministers and chief ministers are sitting here. I want to tell them that give some time to the workers in the organisation. Wherever I go, I get complaints. I know that running a ministry takes a lot of time, but the workers should also get some time,” Mr Gandhi said during his 10-minute speech.
“When we cannot connect with our own workers, how can we be able to connect with the grassroots? We say there is a need to connect people to the organisation. But the fact is that our organisation needs to connect with them,” Mr Gandhi said.
Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik was heckled at the plenary with workers from Bihar accusing him of “selling” tickets in the just-concluded Assembly elections in which the party was routed.
The plenary session also amended its constitution to extend the party president’s term to five years from the current three. An amendment to this effect was passed. The resolution was moved by senior leader Oscar Fernandes and approved by other party leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and scores of party leaders. The amendment comes at a time when Mrs Sonia Gandhi is serving as Congress president for a fourth straight term as the longest-serving leader of the 125-year-old party.
Another key amendment pertained to the AICC meeting at least once every year. Earlier, the party constitution mandated that the AICC should meet “not less than twice” annually.
Mrs Sonia Gandhi also announced that a Vichar Manthan Shivir would be held in the coming months to refresh the perspectives of party workers on national issues and review the functioning of the organisation. The plenary also adopted a condolence resolution mourning the death of some AICC and PCC members.

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