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Keep it austere: Sonia's advice

delhi Updated: Dec 20, 2010 00:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday stressed upon the need for periodic introspection within the party to keep pace with the changing times even as she called upon workers to practice austerity during celebrations.

The party will hold a brainstorming session (chintan shivir) will be held in the coming months on the lines of Pachmarhi and Shimla to reassess its position on critical issues and respond to changing political and economic circumstances.

"This will give us an opportunity to refresh our perspectives on crucial national issues and also review the functioning of our organisation. It will be an occasion to hear the voices of our colleagues, particularly the younger ones, to bring new energy to our thinking," she said at the party's 83rd plenary at Burari, named Rajiv Nagar.

Gandhi was emphatic in her austerity call to party leaders and workers.

"Simplicity, restraint and austerity must be our chosen way. But that does not mean we stop celebrating occasions like marriages and birthdays.

Such occasions can be celebrated in a restrained way. We must set an example. Let us at least have the moral sensibility to avoid vulgar displays of wealth and waste," she said.

Gandhi also laid a roadmap for her party and the UPA government to combat corruption "head on as it is spreading like a disease in our society".

This includes setting up a new system of fast-tracking cases of graft by public servants and politicians — "that means all of us", transparency in public procurement and contracts, protecting whistleblowers besides shedding of discretionary powers by chief ministers and ministers in land allotments as they breed corruption. There should also be an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources, she said.

Gandhi also spoke about the contentious issue of state funding of elections. "We should now consider how best to take this proposal forward decisively."