Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday set the tone for the party’s Kerala run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election on Sunday by lauding developmental initiatives under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre and the United Democratic Front (UDF) government in the state.
She had words of praise for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has been cornered after party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s outburst against the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers. “The UPA government under the leadership of our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has created social welfare schemes that have lifted the lives of millions,” Sonia said.
Speaking after inaugurating a training-cum-research complex at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies (RGIDS) near the Neyyar Dam, she said the Centre’s welfare schemes had made lives better for the deprived and marginalised.
The government’s prime concern is the need to develop the nation while being socially inclusive, she said, reiterating the UPA’s commitment in developing the state on the principles of inclusiveness and secularism.
The marginalisation of people on the basis of caste, religion and gender has restricted the affected from being contributors to the nation’s growth. She urged the management of the training centre to take lead in nurturing leaders who understood society as it is and as it could be.
Institutions like RGIDS could also focus on devising an evolving curriculum to address newer challenges including environmental issues, she added.
The RGIDS, set up by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), offers research and training on a host of economic and development issues.
KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala called the 2014 LS poll as the party’s “biggest challenge”. He urged cadres to help the party win the election and give a befitting reply to communal and divisive forces.
Sonia also highlighted the health schemes developed by the UDF government in an event to launch Arogyakiranam, a health scheme that provides free medication for all aged less than 18 years and free generic medicines at government hospitals.
Meanwhile, Sonia said the previous Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had pulled the state backward by 20 years on the development map, and listed out government schemes including treatment for children with hearing difficulties.
She hoped other states would take cue from Kerala but could not say the same for Uttar Pradesh where the Congress was not in power.