Sonia calls Modi regime dictatorial, Congress discusses way ahead

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday accused the Narendra Modi government of being "dictatorial", "anti-farmer" and "anti-poor" as the party deliberated on its strategy for electoral revival and organisational revamp at a meeting of its working committee.

In her address to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, the party's highest decisdion-making body, Gandhi attacked Modi's silence on "provocative statements and speeches" by some of his ministers and party leaders, saying it was an extension of the party's "strategy of polarization" seen in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election as well as the recent assembly polls.


Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi

She also criticized the government for destroying the Land Acquisition Act. "The Land Acquisition Act came into effect after wide-ranging talks and consultations but this government has effectively destroyed this landmark legislation and brought back the law passed by the British in 1894 through the back door," she said.

Suggesting a nationwide campaign be launched to create awareness about the "dictatorial tendencies of the government", Gandhi expressed concern over the government's "anti-farmer and anti-poor policies".

"While the prime minster makes much of lowering inflation, he doesn't mention how he has lowered the income of farmers. His government has increased the MSP (minimum support price) to select crops only by 3 percent. The MSP of certain crops such as cotton has now gone below cultivation price causing several farmers to commit suicide," she said.

A day after the Delhi polls were announced for feb 7, the party chief entrusted general secretary Ajay Maken to lead the campaign in the national capital for the party which is intent on improving its performance. Against the backdrop of reverses in the assembly polls over the past six months following its debacle in the Lok Sabah election last year, Gandhi expressed hope for new beginning for the party in 2015.

As a plan to revitalize the eroding party's support base across the country, she projected the expansion of party workers base as the key. "We will use our ongoing membership enrollment programme to launch a mass contact mission, which has to be unprecedented in scale and scope," she said.

Underscoring the importance of empowering grassroots workers, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, also present at the meeting, laid a special emphasis on consulting their sentiments before any organizational plan was hammered out.

Sonia Gandhi also criticized the Modi government for taking the ordinance route and bypassing parliament on all crucial matters, saying "the country's democratic institutions are being undermined". "The BJP-led government has already promulgated 10 ordinances in its seven-month tenure, that signaled the government's pernicious notion that ordinances were akin to good governance."

The ordinance on coal mines, she said, "has surreptitiously undone the spirit of nationalization of coal mines that had crucial safeguards". She also denounced the Modi government for diluting welfare policies such as the rural job scheme, the Food Security Act, Forest Rights Act and self help groups institutions. With target on resurrection of party's electoral fortunes, the Congress president called upon the party workers to bring about changes in the structural and leadership of the party.

"The way forward should be that we go back to the people. All of us from AICC down to the block level, need to renew ties and connections with the people everywhere," she said while urging the CWC members to brainstorm and "propose ways and means to reach out to the masses and make this (Modi) government answerable and accountable".

Earlier, party leader Ambika Soni said after the four-hour-long meeting that discussion on Rahul Gandhi's prospective elevation to the party's presidency was not on the agenda. "Rahul Gandhi is our vice president and he is playing a very prominent role. He is also guiding from upfront on many organisational matters. But today (Tuesday), we spoke on the agenda connected with organisational matters only," she said.

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