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Sonia attacks Modi govt: Divisive agenda has undone progress, there is stagnation

Congress president Sonia Gandhi attacked the Modi dispensation, voicing grave concern over a “rise in lynch mobs” and their ideological affinity to the ruling establishment.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2017 22:48 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Manmohan Singh,Sonia Gandhi,Congress meeting
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting at 10 Janpath in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, asking party workers to get ready to “protect the essence and idea of India” and warned that the BJP-led government was now shifting its 2014 manifesto promises.

Addressing a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Sonia expressed concern over an increase in “lynch mobs” and claimed there is a “brazen campaign to strait-jacket the whole country into a regressive and narrow-minded” world-view.

“We are not far from the 2019 elections. We must be ready to protect the essence and idea of India, which this government is seeking to extinguish,” the Congress president said.

The Congress is trying to unite opposition parties ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to take on the BJP and “demolish the invincibility aura” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “To this end, we must strengthen our organisation. The ongoing organisational elections must be completed with the utmost speed and sincerity,” Sonia said.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were also present at the nearly two-hour long meeting during which the CWC ratified the schedule for the internal polls that the party has to complete by December 31.

According to the schedule, elections for the post of Congress president will take place between September 16 and October 15.

The Congress chief was unsparing in her attack on the Modi government. “Where there was harmony, there is discord. Where there was tolerance, there is provocation. Where there was relative calm, as in Kashmir, there is growing confrontation, tension and fear. Where there was economic potential, there is stagnation,” she said.

Widely interpreted as an indirect reference to the beef ban and triple talaq issues, she said, “There is an assault on livelihoods and food habits of those who follow different tenets and beliefs... Women, Dalits, tribals, minorities and other oppressed people are facing perilous times.”

Again without directly mentioning Monday’s CBI raids on NDTV, Sonia said, “Whether it is politicians, institutions, students, civil society or the media, there is growing intolerance and active persecution of divergent voices...”

She said the Modi government was shifting the manifesto promises it should have fulfilled by 2019 to 2022 . “It is just not demonetisation. Make in India failed to create jobs and attract investment. Unemployment is rampant. Farmers are in distress forcing them to commit suicide.”

She also came down heavily on the Centre and the PDP-BJP government in J&K saying, “They are systematically alienating and antagonising the local population especially the youth. A divisive agenda is being followed which has undone years of goodwill.”

For his part, Rahul kept up his attack on the RSS and the BJP, saying they are out to disturb communal harmony in India.

During the meeting, the ex-PM Singh expressed serious concern over the slowdown of the country’s growth and said it is mainly because of demonetisation that has impacted job creation.

He also said that the economy is running on just one engine of public spending.

First Published: Jun 06, 2017 20:33 IST