PM, Sonia to push reforms agenda at Sunday mega rally

PM, Sonia to push reforms agenda at Sunday mega rally

PM, Sonia to push reforms agenda at Sunday mega rally

Seeking to push the ruling UPA’s economic reforms agenda amid a slew of corruption allegations, the Congress' top leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, will address a mega rally of party workers at the Ramlila ground here Sunday.

According to informed sources, the Congress leadership, including general secretary Rahul Gandhi, is expected to explain the government’s recent moves to open the economy, especially allowing foreign equity in retail despite intense opposition to the move.

The Congress Working Committee, the party's highest decision making body, had also endorsed FDI in retail in September while highlighting the need for social welfare schemes.  Hit by a series of corruption allegations over the past one year and an economic slowdown, the Congress is expected to flag the need for high economic growth that in turn will fund its social welfare agenda, according to sources.

Ahead of the next general elections, scheduled in 2014 but not ruled out in 2013, the Congress, which has preferred a socialist cloak over the past decades, wants to convey a message that good economic policies could fetch rich political dividends at the hustings.

How important the economic reforms are politically to the Congress is evident from the fact that the move is receiving greater support from leaders who will have to face elections, in order to be able to return to the Lok Sabha, than by those in the Rajya Sabha.

The Congress has maintained that FDI in retail would help farmers and consumers and result in job creation for the youth - the constituencies it would like to address. The Congress leadership is also expected to attack the BJP and India Against Corruption leader Arvind Kejriwal over the corruption charges they have been hurling at the party and the government.

The rally, being seen in political circles as a massive show of strength, would be attended by all Congress chief ministers, state unit chiefs, heads of block and district units, MPs, legislators and office bearers of the party's frontal organisations.

The rally would be followed by an informal review-cum-strategy meet on Nov 9 at Surajkund, near Delhi, at which the party's top leadership, Congress Working Committee members, general secretaries in charge of states, cabinet ministers and ministers of state with independent charge will participate.

The meet will discuss the current political situation and economic challenges facing the country and review the implementation thus far of the Congress' 2009 election manifesto. The move, said party sources, is meant to identify the gaps in governance and present a roadmap for the new-look cabinet, which was rejigged last Sunday.