Reconnect with voters, says Sonia

Reconnect with voters, says Sonia

UPA chiefs terse message to partymen

Reconnect with voters, says Sonia

With just over a year left for the next Lok Sabha elections and the Congress continuing to battle a crisis of credibility, party chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday sent out a terse message to partymen asking them to swing into action to reconnect with the country’s electorate.

“The party has to recognise that there is a new, changing India. People are younger, more aspirational, better educated, more demanding and they are getting more and more assertive and they want their voice to be heard,” she said in her opening address at a two-day party brainstorming session in the Rajasthan capital.

The Congress president was drawing the attention of a select gathering of 350 party leaders from across the country to the need to know the changing profile of the country’s electorate, particularly youth, which is perceived to have moved away from the Congress since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) returned to power in 2009.

Without going into details of a number of corruption charges facing the UPA government, which dented the image of the party and the government, she said: “Our citizens are rightly fed up with the levels of corruption that they see in public life at high levels, but equally with the corruption they have to deal with in their daily lives. This is a phenomenon, a churning, that we must understand and continue to respond. We cannot allow our growing educated and middle classes to be disillusioned and alienated from the political process.”

She raised concern about party men display wealth in public and family functions. “Ostentatious display of wealth leads to the question where is this wealth coming from,” she said.

The party chief underlined that there is a need to build a leadership that is “proactive and that is not afraid of moving forward, and taking up issues and programmes which highlight the concerns and aspirations of the people.” But for this to happen, she said, it is important for party men to set aside their personal ambitions and egos, and to build leadership at different levels.

Besides addressing the people’s disillusionment with the party and the government, Sonia also briefly touched upon recent issues like the gang-rape of a student in Delhi and the latest Indo-Pak tension along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Without naming Pakistan, she said dialogue with the neighbouring country should be based on accepted principles of civilisd behaviour. “We will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our borders.”

The Congress president also took pains to lay stress on the party to bring issues to the “heart of our political activity and change mindsets.” “I must say with the greatest anguish and pain that discrimination against girl child continues. Atrocities against women…the way we still treat widows, prevalence of female foeticide, trafficking in children and women, brazen sexual harassment—these are all very disturbing trends that should shake and awaken us.” She, however, did not mention the recent Delhi gang-rape and the subsequent anti-rape demonstration by youth.

On the positive side, she asserted that the Congress was the only pan-Indian party that appealed to all with its inclusive and secular ideology. The party stood for development and social harmony.

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