UDAIPUR: In one of her sharpest attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused him of “being silent when the healing touch is most needed”, intimidating political opponents and “wholesale re-invention of history” and maligning Jawaharlal Nehru.
Inaugurating the Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, Gandhi also said that the Congress is in “urgent need of reforms.” “Change in our strategy, structural reforms and even changes in the way we work every day are required and these are fundamental issues,” she said.
Gandhi’s attack on the PM and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were in sync with the overall approach of the Chintan Shivir that aims to revamp the Congress with an eye on 2024 elections. It is also a bid to show that the Congress is fighting back after the loss of ten state assembly polls in the last 13 months.
Taking a jibe at Modi’s pet slogan on maximum governance, Gandhi said “It means more empty slogans, diversionary tactics and utter silence on the part of an ever so eloquent Prime Minister when the healing touch is most needed,” in an apparent reference to the economic woes triggered by inflation and high fuel price.
Decoding the slogan further, Gandhi accused the PM and the ruling side for “keeping the country in a state of permanent polarisation, compelling our people to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity.” She accused the PM and the government for “viciously targeting, victimising and often brutalising minorities” and “threatening and intimidating political opponents, maligning their reputations, jailing them on flimsy pretexts, misusing investigative agencies against them.”
She spoke at length about how the BJP government’s faulty policies have led to economic woes and added “the atmosphere of bigotry shakes the foundation of economic growth.” Gandhi also reminded that the public sector companies, set up by the Congress governments are being sold off to select industrialists. She hailed the farmers’ protests.
If this frontal attack preceded the Chintan Shivir’s decision to launch campaign against the Centre, Gandhi was equally mindful of the uphill task of reviving the Congress.
“The circumstances that have arisen before our organisation today are unprecedented. Extraordinary situations can be dealt with only in extraordinary ways. I am fully aware of this,” she said, underling the occasion for chintan as well as atma-chintan (self-introspection).
Sonia reminded the party that every organisation needs to change itself with time, and reiterated that it’s the time to repay the debt of the party and keep personal ambitions under collective changes. The message seems significant as the Chintan Shivir will see many G23 leaders involved in the discussions.
In the end, she sought frank opinions during discussions but cautioned that the central message that would emerge out of the conclave must be unity.