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Avoid factional fight, Sonia tells CPP meeting

Last updated on: May 09, 2012 12:51 IST
Asking partymen to draw lessons from the previous polls, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said leaders must shed factional behaviour and fight as

one disciplined team as the party braces to face a series of state elections in the coming months.

"We must all shed all manner of factional behaviour, and fight as one disciplined team at all levels. That will be the single-most important factor to decide whether we win or lose.

"People look to us -- but we need to show them our commitment and our unity if we are to convert this sentiment into electoral victories," Gandhi said while addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party in New Delhi, which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Commenting on the elections results in the five states including Uttar Pradesh, where the party could not perform as expected, Gandhi said, "While we can take satisfaction in the fact that we returned to power in Manipur for the third time and formed the government in Uttarakhand, the results in Punjab and Goa are very disappointing.

"In Uttar Pradesh, even though we did not perform as well as we had hoped to, we increased our vote share quite considerably and were seen as a serious player for the first time in 22 years. Of course there is much work to be done there as in other states."

The CPP meeting has come a few days after a high-power committee of the party led AK Antony that reviewed the party's performance in the five states, submitted its report to Gandhi.

She said with a series of state elections approaching in the coming months, the partymen "must draw upon lessons of the previous polls."

Gandhi also asked partymen to project the works of the party led government at the Centre and "expose the hollow claims of opposition-rule state governments", adding that "mis-governance and corruption have been widespread in some of these states as revealed by CAG and Lokayukta reports".

Gandhi said that it is particularly for the party at the state level to highlight the failures of the opposition-ruled governments.

Against the backdrop of the stand-off between the states and the Centre over the National Counter-Terrorism Centre with United Progressive Alliance partner Mamata Banerjee leading the charge against the government, Gandhi said, "Trust and cooperation must be the anchor of Centre-state relations."

She noted that there has been a lot of discussion in recent months on Centre-state relations.

"I would like to reiterate here we are fully committed to strengthening federalism, which is a key tenet of our party's and the UPA's agenda. What better evidence of this can there be than the unprecedented transfers of financial assistance from the Centre to the states these past eight years," Gandhi said.

She said there are Centre-state issues of major national importance -- such as fighting terrorism or dealing with left-wing extremism -- where the "Centre cannot shirk its responsibilty".

"In such cases, it has been our government's endeavour to work closely with the state governments so that our national interest is protected," Gandhi said.

Referring to the bills on food security and land acquisition, which are yet to see the light of the day, Gandhi said, "On our part, we must do all we can to ensure that the legislative process is not unduly delayed."

While food security is the pet project of Sonia Gandhi led-National Advisory Council, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi has been leading from the front for a new land bill.

The Congress president noted, "We are awaiting the standing committee reports on a number of important legislations including those on food security and land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation."

Accusing the opposition of "double-speak", the Congress president urged partymen to "expose" its "obstructive behaviour" in parliamentary proceedings.

She, at the same time, chose to flag that "whatever motives may guide the opposition, we have but one singular duty and that is to the people, who have elected us, and expect Parliament to function smoothly."

Lauding the UPA government's achievements, Gandhi said, "It seems to have become almost fashionable these days to criticise the government. We must speak forcefully and with confidence on what we have achieved and there is much we have to show despite difficult economic times.

"We must project our government's many accomplishments and our ambitious legislative agenda."

She said that the recent Budget renews the priority of the party and the government for faster and inclusive growth.

Noting that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has already responded to the debate on the Budget and the Finance Bill, she said, "Despite the tough fiscal situation, the Budget has increased allocations for key social programmes."

Gandhi also called for a sharper focus on improving the effectiveness of public expenditures, saying, "We must not just remain content with increases in outlays."

She said the Aadhar programme now has the potential to offer a much better way to deliver pensions, scholarships, subsidies and the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme wages directly to beneficiaries and eliminate inefficiencies, waste and corruption.

Gandhi said the bill to ensure transparency in public procurement is expected to be introduced over the next few days, which marks yet another milestone in the party and the government's determination to enhance probity and accountability in public life.

Gandhi also took note of the drought-like situation in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

She said she was sure that the central government will extend the necessary assistance to the affected areas. "Meanwhile, our party organisation too must be active in relief and rehabilitation activities," she said.

The Congress president said that the party has faced many challenges since the last CPP meeting she had addressed.

"Since our last meeting, we have faced challenges that have tested our resolve. But we have remained steadfast in our commitment to the 'aam admi' and the weaker sections of society," Gandhi said.

This was the first occasion for Gandhi to interact with party MPs in the new year and after the assembly elections, which saw the party receiving a drubbing in Uttar Pradesh.

The last CPP meeting addressed by Gandhi was held on December 21. She had skipped the monsoon session of Parliament in July-August last year on account of ill-health and had gone abroad for treatment of an undisclosed ailment.

In the CPP meeting, Gandhi also referred to the upcoming celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the inaugural session of the first Lok Sabha on May 19.

Noting the establishment of representative parliamentary democracy in India, anchored in secular, liberal and progressive values, was undoubtedly among the finest achievements of the party, Gandhi said, "We are a party whose history is tied inseparably with that of this nation. Let us never forget the responsibility that comes from this legacy."

She said, "We gratefully acknowledge the wisdom and farsightedness of Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues, who had the vision and confidence to set us on this path. We are proud of the legacy.

"It obliges us to remain ever vigilant in our duty. We are, at the end of the day, the voice of those, who cannot be heard and the strength of those, who need it."

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