In an apparent attempt at assuaging his feelings in the wake of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's denunciation of the government, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi on Sunday praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying schemes launched under his leadership have helped millions of people from the marginalised sections.
"They (marginalised sections) faced discrimination at every level. The United Progressive Alliance government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lifted million of them through its flagship schemes," she said at a function at Neyar Dam about 30 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
The remarks came amid a political storm over Rahul's attack on the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers which he described as "complete nonsense" and a document that "should be torn up and thrown away".
"What our government has done as far as this ordinance is concerned is wrong," the Congress vice president had said on Friday. After the outburst, Sonia had spoken over telephone to the prime minister, who is away in the US on a visit, and Rahul also wrote to him expressing his "greatest admiration" for Singh's leadership in extremely difficult circumstances.
The Congress had made Rahul's letter public hours after his attack. The controversial ordinance, approved recently by the Union Cabinet presided over by Singh, seeks to prevent immediate disqualification of convicted members of Parliament and members of Legislative Assembly and negate a Supreme Court judgement on this.
Sonia said, "Congress always stood for the Gandhian principles of inclusive development and the party would continue to make efforts for the development of all sections of society based on this concept."
She was speaking after inaugurating the Research-cum Training Centre attached to Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Development Studies set up by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee. The UPA chairperson noted that discrimination on the basis of gender, caste and class faced by marginalised section in the society was still a problem in the country and urged the policy makers to evolve policies and programmes to address it.
She said both UPA government at the Centre and the United Democratic Front in Kerala were committed to ensuring inclusive growth underlined Gandhian principles and uplift the poor and downtrodden. "We need to do much more to empower poor and marginalised," she added.
The country has developed much and at the same time it faced various types of unprecedented challenges in the form of natural disasters, environmental problems and human development concerns, Sonia said.
The policy makers of the future have to address this problems and Research Institute like the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Development Studies would equip them to evolve policies to tackle the problems, she said. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, Shashi Tharoor, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Ramesh Chennithala were among those present on the occasion.
Besides offering research facilities to scholars on topics related to developmental politics and economics, the campus would also organise short-term and long-term workshops and training programmes for party workers to equip them to deal with grassroot level issues to tackel them more effectively and meaningfully.
The five-acre campus, developed on sylvan settings near Neyyar Dam, has a research centre, library, seminar and lecture halls and other allied facilities for onboard training programmes.
The programmes of the campus would be supervised by an academic committee chaired by planning expert Dr G Mohan Gopal and noted economist Dr BA Prakash as vice chairman.