Asking partymen to gear up for the next Lok Sabha polls, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused its opponents of attempting to grab power at any cost and called for an aggressive response to their "false propaganda".
Noting that about 18 months were left for the next Parliamentary polls, Gandhi told a "dialogue meeeting" of top party leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here that the party should strive hard to meet the challenge.
Gandhi, who is also the UPA chairperson, said that though "we are facing very difficult challenges", it is a fact that "we have a record of excellent achievements in the past eight years and we are proud of our commitment to the interest of the common man. This commitment is our dharma."
She said that the party-led government has changed the face of India through "unparalleled programmes and laws".
"Our detractors and the opposition are bent upon spreading disinformation on political, moral and policy issues," she said.
"We have to respond aggressively to their false propaganda. We know that in reality their intention is to grab power at any cost, notwithstanding the fact that their greed could weaken democracy, equality, sovereignty and secular values," she said.
Gandhi was addressing the day-long meeting of Congress top brass, including Cabinet ministers, Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Congress Working Committee (CWC) members and permanent invitees to CWC.
The exercise, also being attended by Rahul Gandhi, is the first of its kind with the Congress chief telling the top party brass that the interaction between the party and the government should not be limited to such meetings.
Gandhi hailed the 'able' leadership of the Prime Minister to the government which, she said, has helped the country stave off to a large extent the effects of the global economic slowdown for the past few years when countries much more developed than India are in crisis.
"But we cannot be fully insulated from the global economic crisis," she said, conceding that the government had to take certain decisions due to the crisis because of which the common man faced difficulties.
"The challenge before us is to tell the people about the reasons which forced us to take the decisions," Gandhi said in an obvious reference to the hike in prices of petroleum products as also LPG.
At the outset, she said the forum of the dialogue meeting is for strengthening the interaction between the government and the party at a time when those who are sent to the government have to fulfil their responsibilities, while those in the party feel that it should run as per the ideology of the organisation.
Noting that those in the government feel that party understood the compulsions of the government, she said perhaps both the points-of-view are correct.
She said there had been realisation of greater interaction between the government and the party and that it should not be restricted to major policy decisions.
Gandhi said that some colleagues in the party had reservations over certain decisions of the government as also their timings. Many in the party were dissatisfied over the way ministers were not giving due attention to their suggestions and concerns, she said.
The Congress president wanted the ministers to listen to party workers and give due attention to their concerns. The ministers should interact with partymen while visiting states and this is all the more necessary in states ruled by the opposition parties, she said.
"Being Congress workers, we are part of one family...and it is but natural that on certain occasions there was need to ensure a balance between the responsibilities of the party and the government," Gandhi said.