Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi used the first meeting of the reconstituted top decision-making body of the party to send out a strong signal of unity to the 28-member opposition INDIA alliance on Saturday. Mrs Gandhi told the members of the Congress Working Committee that the party has to fight unitedly with INDIA against the BJP.
Her remarks come days after the third meeting of the alliance in Mumbai and the first meeting of its Coordination Committee at the residence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. They assume importance because of reports that the bloc, while largely successful in figuring out seat-sharing arrangements in some states, is expected to have a tough time in others, especially West Bengal, Delhi and Punjab.
After the meeting in Mumbai, the parties in the INDIA alliance had also said that they would contest the 2024 Lok Sabha election “together as far as possible”. The inclusion of the phrase in their resolution had raised eyebrows and lent credence to speculation that the parties were also seeing a rocky road ahead when it came to working out the seat-sharing arrangements in some states.
In his opening remarks at the CWC meeting – the first since he took over as the Congress president last year – Mallikarjun Kharge launched an all-out attack on the BJP and the Centre and said that it has been a “complete failure on all important fronts”. Mr Kharge alleged that the Modi government has not been able to control inflation, unemployment, widening inequality or the deteriorating condition of farmers and labourers.
Stating that India is at a crossroads and is facing many internal challenges, Mr Kharge said the whole country is witnessing the tragic events that are still unfolding in Manipur. “The Modi government allowed the fire of Manipur to reach Nuh in Haryana. These incidents tarnish the image of a modern, progressive, and secular India,” the Congress chief said.
Mr Kharge said that the economy is in “grave danger” and rising prices have adversely affected the lives of the common man. He also added that the Centre’s alleged negligence on China’s encroachments poses a critical danger to the country’s security, but the government has a tendency to distract from real issues with “empty slogans” like ‘Amritkaal’ and ‘Third-Largest Economy.
On the INDIA alliance, the Congress chief said, “After three successful meetings, the INDIA alliance is forging ahead to combat the anti-people and anti-democratic BJP government. Perturbed by this development, the BJP government is resorting to vindictive action against Opposition parties. We also strongly condemn the government’s attempts to stifle opposition in the parliament and curtail public scrutiny in parliament.”
The CWC meeting was held in Hyderabad, which is being seen as a message to the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana that the Congress party will be making all efforts to win the state in the upcoming Assembly elections.
The committee also deliberated on the preparations for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and the Lok Sabha polls next year. Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot and Gaurav Gogoi are among the panel’s new members.
The other members of the top decision-making body include Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh.