Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and charged that the NDA government has “dictatorial” tendencies even as her party’s leaders met in New Delhi to draw up a strategy for painting the ruling alliance as being “anti farmer”.
In her opening remarks at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s apex decision-making body, Sonia accused the prime minister of “ignoring provocative statements and speeches” by members of his Cabinet as well as BJP leaders and alleged that it was a continuation of the “strategy of polarisation” adopted during Lok Sabha polls.
With the party facing a depleting support base ever since its debacle in the general elections last year, Sonia asked senior leaders to “propose ways and means to reach out to the masses” at the meeting which was held to deliberate on plans for holding nationwide agitations against the land ordinance and other farmer issues.
On the question of the ordinance, she said, “The country’s democratic institutions are being undermined. The BJP-led government has already promulgated 10 ordinances in its seven month tenure”, and added that the NDA dispensation is operating through a “perilous” notion that ordinances constitute good governance.
Accusing the government of having “effectively destroyed” the Land Acquisition Act, which was brought in by the Congress -led UPA, she said that NDA “brought back, through the back door, the law passed by the British in 1894.”
At the meeting, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi made a strong pitch for empowering grassroots workers and delegating powers to block presidents.
Meanwhile, scotching media speculation regarding elevation of Rahul as the Congress president, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni said the matter was not on the agenda of CWC and there was no discussion in that regard at the meeting.
In the last few weeks, the true colours and intentions of the Prime Minister and BJP have become abundantly clear. Influential members of the government and the party have been making provocative statements and speeches.
“This is, in many ways, a continuation of the strategy of polarisation adopted by them in last year’s Lok Sabha polls as well as in the recent Assembly polls,” said Sonia.
Alleging that the Prime Minister has chosen to “ignore” these disturbing statements and speeches, the Congress chief said that raises questions as to “his real agenda, an agenda that causes sharp division, mistrust and hatred among communities, an agenda that can only cause grievous harm to our nation’s pluralistic and secular ethos”.
Maintaining that it is not just the “dictatorial tendencies” of the government which are a matter of concern but also its “anti-farmer, anti-poor policies”, Sonia said that Modi government’s policies have “sown the seeds of acute agrarian crisis”.
She further accused the government of having “surreptitiously” undone the spirit of nationalisation of coal mines, which had crucial safeguards, by bringing the ordinance on coal mines.
On the question of Congress’s revival, Sonia said that while the previous year was a “challenging one” for the party, she hopes that 2015 will herald a new beginning for it and would be an “occasion to prepare the party” for many more years of service to the country.
Meanwhile, former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and former Food Minister K V Thomas made a detailed presentation during the meet on the ordinance issue and other decisions of the government affecting farmers, like Minimum Support Price.
The land ordinance issue has offered Congress with an opportunity to reach out to farmers and strengthen its ‘aam aadmi’ plank, which was hit all the more by its dismal showing in Delhi Assembly polls in 2013 when Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party appeared to have overshadowed that image of the grand old party.