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Home > Election > PTI

Sonia asks Congress to prepare for bigger battles

December 19, 2002 17:47 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday asked the party to take its defeat in the Gujarat election as an opportunity to prepare for 'bigger battles.'

"We respect the verdict of the people. Of course, we are disappointed with the results but there is no room for despondency. Let us treat this as an opportunity to prepare for bigger battles that lie ahead," Sonia said addressing the general body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

She said electoral ups and downs were inevitable in a democratic polity, but the Gujarat results reveal the 'nature and magnitude of the challenge that awaits us as we need to regroup and revitalise ourselves'.

"We must and will identify, acknowledge and rectify our shortcomings, both real and perceived," Sonia said.

Thanking all those who voted for the party in Gujarat, Sonia said: "[We must] Concentrate single-mindedly on the tasks ahead and remain steadfast in our commitment to secularism, anchored in our vision of economic growth with social harmony."

The party needs to be "extraordinarily" vigilant in the states it rules so that the "communal virus" is not injected and propagated, she felt.

Referring to the elections in nine states next year, she said: "It will be a combination of good governance, effective communication, quick response to local crises and skilful political management that will enable us to defeat the so-called anti-incumbency factor."

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar of preaching "virulent hatred and spreading poison" during the polls in Gujarat, Sonia said: "We confronted and battled figures and forces who respected no rules of language or action, who observed no limits in words and deeds. It is no use saying that after the heat of campaigning, passions will cool and the irresponsible will rediscover a sense of sobriety.

"Grave damage has been done to our polity and to our society by the deliberately mischievous and malicious way in which the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad conducted the election campaign in Gujarat. We will confront and combat them uncompromisingly with all our strength."

Sonia regretted that issues like the feasibility of the Tenth Five-year Plan, assessment of the Ninth Plan, and government's refusal to order a probe into petrol pump allotments were not discussed in Parliament.

On Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's drought relief package, Sonia said: "Instead of such piecemeal announcements, it would have been better if the government had implemented a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package."

 


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