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Oppn bloc must work cohesively inside and outside House: Mallikarjun Kharge

Jun 09, 2024 05:03 AM IST

Mallikarjun Kharge emphasized on the unity of the INDIA bloc with 236 lawmakers, acknowledging the need to function cohesively inside and outside Parliament.

New Delhi: The INDIA bloc, a group that has 236 lawmakers in the Lok Sabha, must function “cohesively and collectively both in Parliament and outside”, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said at the meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday as he also emphasised that “people have reposed their faith back in us (the Congress) in substantial measures and we must build on it”.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge with party leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after Extended Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi, India, on Saturday. (Vipin Kumar/HT)

The Congress president, who played a key role in forming the alliance, said, “I will be failing in my duty if I don’t acknowledge the INDIA alliance partners, in which each party played its designated role in different states, each party contributed to the other. Our determination is that the INDIA group must continue. We must function cohesively and collectively both in Parliament and outside.”

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In the first meeting of the extended CWC following the Lok Sabha elections, the mood was jubilant and the discussions mostly veered onto Rahul Gandhi’s possible role as the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Also Read | CWC passes resolution to appoint Rahul Gandhi as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha

But the Congress decided to form a panel to review the party’s poor performances in some states as leaders such as former Rajasthan deputy CM Sachin Pilot asked for fixing accountability.

Kharge maintained that in the Lok Sabha elections, “People have spoken against the dictatorial and anti-democratic ways of the ruling party. It is a decisive rejection of the politics of the last 10 years. It’s a rejection of the politics of divisiveness, hate and polarisation.”

Addressing the extended CWC attended by 120 of 139 members, Kharge also asked the party to continue to raise the issues highlighted during the Lok Sabha campaign. “The issues that we raised in the election campaign are issues that are bothering the people of India. Our determination is that the INDIA group must continue.”

But the Congress chief also called for a review of the party’s showing in some states and heightened efforts to improve the Congress vote share in urban centres. In big cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, the Congress found little success.

Also Read | ‘No longer can…’: Sonia Gandhi's sharp attack on Narendra Modi's governance style

“While we celebrate the revival, we should pause a little as in some states we have not performed to our abilities and expectations. Further, we could not repeat our performance in states where we had previously done well in the Vidhan Sabha elections and formed the government,” Kharge added, “Other than this, we saw an increase in seats dominated by SC, ST, OBC, and minority voters as well as in rural areas. Going forward, we have to make our presence felt in urban areas as well.”

In the meeting, some leaders including Pilot, suggested that the party high command should collect data from the state-level screening committees to find out which leaders backed the candidates who lost the elections. In this way, Pilot, suggested, accountability can be fixed.

Kharge told him that a committee would be formed and he would personally visit some of the states to review the results. The Congress didn’t get a single seat in 10 states and UTs including Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. After the defeat of its Rajya Sabha candidate, the party drew a blank in Himachal Pradesh, which is ruled by the Congress.

Kharge called for “urgent remedial measures” and pointed out that “these are states which have traditionally favoured the Congress, where we have opportunities which we have to harness not for our own advantage but for the benefit of our people”.

The Congress chief also harped on discipline and unity and said, “The people have reposed their faith back in us in substantial measures and we must build on it. We accept this verdict with genuine humility.”

Later, addressing the press, general secretary KC Venugopal added that the Modi government created a “troublesome path” during the elections and the Opposition was denied a level playing field.

He added that the “atmosphere in the CWC is entirely different from what it was four months ago” and the revival of the Congress party has started.

Venugopal said, “This CWC unanimously acknowledged the greater service done by our Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge Ji and former president Smt Sonia Gandhi Ji, Rahul Gandhi Ji, and Priyanka Gandhi Ji.”

The CWC resolution said, “The verdict of the people is not just a political loss but a personal and moral defeat for the Prime Minister who sought the mandate in his name and ran a campaign anchored in lies, hate, prejudice, divisiveness and extreme bigotry. The verdict of the people is clearly against the undermining of democracy and democratic institutions that has taken place since 2014.”

The CWC resolution also praised Kharge’s “sheer energy and determination”, Sonia Gandhi’s “guidance, advice and support and her interventions” and said, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was “nothing short of being brilliant” in UP.

Kharge also praised Rahul Gandhi in his opening remarks. “I want to draw your attention to the fact that wherever Bharat Jodo Yatra went we saw an increase in the vote percentage and the number of seats for the Congress party. In Manipur, we won both the seats. We also won seats in Nagaland, Assam, and Meghalaya. In Maharashtra, we emerged as the single-largest party. People from all walks of life supported the Congress party to save the country’s democracy and constitution,” he said.

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