Congress plenary venue - a flashback into party history
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Congress plenary venue - a flashback into party history

The venue takes one into the rich history of the 120-year-old organisation and its great leaders.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 11:35 IST

It may be Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi who dominate thousands of banners and posters put up all over the city for the Congress plenary, but the venue takes one into the rich history of the 120-year-old organisation and its great leaders.

The delegates to the 82nd plenary session that begins here on Saturday will get an insight into the history of the 'world's largest democratic party' as also the freedom struggle and development of the country under the Congress in the post-Independence era.

The world-class Gacchibowli stadium, the venue of the three-day conclave, is decked with portraits of 61 Congress presidents, including one of its founders in 1885 Allan Octavian Hume, a Scotsman, down to present incumbent Sonia Gandhi.

The oil paintings done by local artist CV Ambaji adorn the outer wall and entrances to the stadium.

"It was not an easy job as most of the photographs belonged to the late 1800s and the prints of many were very dull," Ambaji said.

The paintings also include those depicting the first War of Independence in 1857 and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

A photo exhibition has also been arranged near the stadium. Designed by Telugu film art director Peketi Ranga Rao, it features nearly 3,000 rare photographs depicting the history of the Congress party, freedom struggle and post-independence era.

The exhibition has four sections. The first section titled 'Shaping the Destiny' depicts the history of the country from 1885 to 1947. The second section is 'Nehru-Shastri-Indira', an era of the country's development. The third section relates to the 'Rajiv-PV Narasimha Rao' period of technological advancements and economic reforms while the fourth section is devoted to the current 'Sonia-Manmohan' period termed 'Sacrifice and Economic Resurgence' era.

The exhibition, to be inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi later in the day, also showcases the history of the party in Andhra Pradesh and achievements of the 20-month-old Congress government of the state including Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's ambitious irrigation programme.

A scaled-down version of Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad also adorns the gallery. It has a cut out of Gandhi spinning yarn in it.

The huge canvas on the main dais also carries portraits of leaders who shaped the destiny of the country and the party. With the portraits of Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on either side of the canvas, it carries pictures of Mahatma Gandhi in the middle flanked by past Congress prime ministers - Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao - and former key leaders - Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Sarojini Naidu, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, K Kamaraj and Jagjivan Ram.

It is not just at the venue that the party is trying to depict the rich history of the organisation and freedom struggle. An exhibition is being unveiled at the Nanal crossroads, where a historic Congress plenary was held on Jan 23, 1953, when Jawaharlal Nehru was party president.

Dedicated to freedom fighters and Congress workers who laid down their lives for the country, the exhibition has eight phases depicting the pre-Independence era, the first War of Indian Independence, Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Jawaharlal Nehru's 'Tryst with Destiny' speech (1947) and the advances made by the nation in science and technology.

Dozens of arches erected along the roads leading to the venue and various crossroads in the city have also been named after past leaders.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 11:35 IST