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Paper ballots, pre-poll alliances: Congress's resolutions at 84th plenary

Last updated on: March 17, 2018 21:33 IST

This, the Congress said in its political resolution, was necessary as there were misgivings on the 'misuse' of EVMs to 'manipulate the outcome contrary to the popular verdict.'
The resolution called for reverting to the old practice of paper ballot as adopted by other major democracies to help restore the credibility of the electoral process.

IMAGE: Congress President Rahul Gandhi and former party president Sonia Gandhi at the 84th Congress plenary session in New Delhi, March 17, 2018. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The Congress on Saturday, March 18, resolved to adopt a 'pragmatic approach' for cooperation with all like-minded parties and evolve a common workable programme to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the 2019 general election.

This indication of a pre-poll tie-up comes in the wake of efforts by the Congress to evolve a consensus among various Opposition parties to unitedly take on the BJP's might.

In its political resolution moved at the session, the Congress launched a scathing attack on the BJP-RSS, saying the country's core Constitutional values are under attack and freedom of all is in jeopardy, with institutions under stress and their independence compromised.


While delivering a speech at the 84th Congress plenary session, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra D Modi, saying that his pre-poll promises of combating corruption and ensuring inclusive development were "only dramebazi' and a trick to grab power.

Gandhi, in her address, gave a clarion call to the partymen to be ready for any kind of sacrifice to strengthen the party and to make the county free from discrimination, vendetta politics and arrogance.

She called upon them to forcefully fight against the challenges posed by the present dispensation and asked them to mount a struggle to free the country from the fear of power.

"The slogans of 'sab ka saath, sab ka vikas' and 'na khaoonga, na khaane doonga' are only and only dramebazi (drama) and a trick to grab power," she said, referring to Modi's promises of inclusive development and corruption-free governance.

She said that the Congress was fighting the tyrannical Modi government and the people have begun to realise that the promises made by the BJP in 2014 were hollow.

"Under the leadership of former PM Manmohan Singh, the economy of this country flourished. Our government formed policies which lifted millions of people from poverty. And today, the Modi government is weakening these policies," she said.

IMAGE: Rahul and Sonia with senior congress leaders Manmohan Singh, AK Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge at the party conclave. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

Earlier, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, in his brief inaugural address at the plenary session, also accused the Narendra D Modi government of spreading hatred and anger, and said the Congress was the only party that would take the country forward by fostering an environment of amity and love.

Gandhi said the Congress's hand (its election symbol) is the only one that would unite India and take it forward, and reminded partymen that it followed the ideology of love.

The difference between the BJP and the Congress was that while they spread anger and hatred, "we spread love and brotherhood", he said. 

The Congress party under him, Rahul added, would take seniors and the youth together as the tradition of the Congress party was to embrace change without forgetting its past and legacy.

"If the youth have to take the Congress forward, it cannot be done without the experience of the party veterans. My task is to be take them together," he said.

Taking a jibe at the present dispensation, Gandhi said that crores of youth in the country, looking up to Modi, are not finding any anything as there were no jobs.

"The country is tired of what is happening under the current government. Only the Congress party can show the way and heal divisions in the nation," he said.

"Come what may, this country belongs to everyone, every religion, every caste and every person and the Congress party is for everyone and we will not leave anyone behind," he added. 

IMAGE: Rahul tells Congress partymen to followed the ideology of love. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The draft resolution moved at the conclave by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge says, 'A resurgent Congress alone shall win back the idea of India as envisioned by the founding fathers of our nation.'

The party said it was prepared for making sacrifices required to defend the ethos of the Constitution and 'We will purge the polity of the aberrations witnessed during the BJP regime, which has failed to honour its commitments to the people of India.'

The party also gave a clarion call to its rank and file to rise to the occasion and defend the foundational values of the Republic and Constitutional democracy.

The resolution said at a time when the country stood at the crossroads, facing the threat posed by 'authoritarian, divisive and disruptive forces', the Congress is committed to serve the people of India with its illustrious history and legacy that represent multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious India.

Under the BJP regime, the Congress said, the people of the country, be it farmers, labourers, unorganised sector workers, self-employed, Dalits, traders, minorities and the poor have been 'betrayed'. 

Adopting a resolution on "Agriculture, Employment and Poverty Alleviation" at the party's 84th plenary session, the Congress said that if voted to power, it would come out with a loan-waiver scheme for small and marginal farmers similar to that announced by the UPA government in 2009.

Hititng out at the Modi government for its “flawed” and “anti-farmer” policies that have caused an "agrarian crisis" in the country, the resolution, moved by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, expressed concern over the "failure" of the central government to deliver on its “lofty” promises and accused it of “duping” farmers “by making empty noises of doubling farm incomes by 2022”.

The party claimed the scheme of the UPA government in 2009 had benefited 3.2 crore farmers.

The crop insurance scheme of the Modi government benefited private insurance companies more than the farmer, it said, alleging that the money was taken away from farmers' bank accounts without their consent.

Alleging that there were rising levels of income inequality due to "anti-poor" policies of the government, the party said the BJP had promised 'sabka saath, sabka vikas', but it acted contrary to their slogan.

IMAGE: Priyanka Gandhi too attended the plenary. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

The political resolution called for reverting to the old practice of paper ballot as adopted by other major democracies to help restore the credibility of the electoral process.

This, it said, was necessary as there were misgivings on the 'misuse' of EVMs to 'manipulate the outcome contrary to the popular verdict.'

It also said that the BJP's move of simultaneous elections is 'misplaced' and is 'incompatible with the Constitution as also impractical.'

'It will have serious implications, which must be thoroughly enquired into, and a national consensus built,' it said.

Facing the challenge of defections in the party, with the BJP poaching many of its leaders, the party sought debarring defectors from contesting elections for six years to check the 'brazen misuse of money power to create political instability.'

The party hit out at the BJP-RSS ideology, alleging that it was creating an environment of 'distrust, fear and intimidation' in pursuit of their 'insidious and divisive agenda.'

'The Congress condemns the BJP government for brazen abuse of power and misuse of central agencies for targeted political vendetta to harass, humiliate and persecute its political opponents,' the resolution stated.

'The Congress party warns the BJP and its government that its undemocratic methods and acts to curtail liberty, freedom of expression and violation of fundamental rights of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution will be strongly resisted,' the resolution added. 

IMAGE: After Sonia's speech Rahul gives her a warm hug. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

On corruption, the party said the BJP government 'lacks sincerity in fighting corruption, to ensure transparency and accountability. This is underscored by its non-appointment of the Lokpal.'

The party also said the judicial system needed urgent reforms for effective and timely dispensation of justice and said the huge pendency of cases and providing affordable justice remains a big challenge that needs to be addressed.

The resolution also called upon the media to restore the balance in national narrative to safeguard democracy.

The political resolution also talked about deteriorating internal and external security environment, youth, women empowerment and social justice.

It also highlighted the atrocities on Dalits, minorities and tribals, alleging that they are living under the general fear of insecurity under BJP rule.

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