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Sonia in Jaipur: Won't let Delhi rape victim's death go in vain

January 20, 2013 12:37 IST
A day after Rahul Gandhi's anointment as party's vice president, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday targeted youth, women and middle class in the party's quest for widening its base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Opening the All India Congress Committee session in Jaipur after the two-day Chintan Shivir, she also made some plain speaking to her party men saying they should not indulge in nepotism and should show unity to face the challenge of elections which are 15 months away.

She said party leaders should work for the welfare of all and not restrict themselves to their "favourites". "I am sure if we make the right efforts with unity, there is no doubt in my mind why we will not get the mandate again," she said.

Gandhi said she was happy with the participation of the younger colleagues in the brainstorming conclave and hoped that it will help the party project new leadership.

With apparently the huge middle class in her mind, she spoke of women's empowerment in the context of the gang rape of the Delhi and of the need to fight corruption in public life.

Gandhi said after the Burari session of the Congress, the United Progress Alliance government had stepped up its fight against corruption and has introduced various measures in Parliament including the Lokpal Bill.

She said the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, nicknamed 'aapka paisa appke haath' (your money in your hands) will benefit people by transfer of money meant for pensions and scholarships directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. The DBTS will eliminate corruption by middlemen, she said terming graft as a "deep-rooted malice" affecting all sections of the society.

Under attack over slow response to public protests in the wake of the gangrape incident in Delhi, Gandhi said people were right in demanding answers and actions in the case, as safety of women was a fundamental right.

The sacrifice of the girl who was brutally raped and assaulted in a bus last month would not go in vain as it has shaken the conscience of the nation, she said in her address.

Gandhi said the young gang rape victim was "tragically the symbol of women and children who suffer similar fate" in the wake of denial of justice.

She also said the atrocities on women and children were a reflection of "shameful" social mindset, which needed to be changed.

In her opening remarks, she deprecated the "shocking remarks" made by public figures in the wake of the rape incident and said they were unacceptable.

Gandhi said the UPA government has drafted laws for women's empowerment like providing them protection against sexual harassment at workplace and providing them better representation in panchayats.

The Congress president said she would personally press for the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill pending in the Lok Sabha.

Gandhi made a strong pitch for electoral reforms and political funding saying people are getting disillusioned with the political process and there is a need to address the issue with sensitivity.

"We have to admit that people are getting disillusioned with the political process. We have to understand what the causes of this disillusionment are and we have to do away with this with sensitivity," Gandhi said striking an introspective note.

She also wanted that the attempts to tarnish the image of political politicians and democratic institutions should be countered.

Gandhi also announced setting up of a special group within the party which would consider all suggestions and come out with a programme at the earliest.

"We have to make now time bound programmes to do it," she said.

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