The Forest Rights Act 2006 was passed on December 18, 2006. The legislation redressed the historical injustice against forest dwellers giving them greater control over their resources and life.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) became an Act on August 25, 2005. The Act provides for 100 days of guaranteed employment for every Indian who seeks work. The UPA Government has allocated close to Rs 2 lakh crore to the scheme. The Scheme was renamed as MNREGA on Oct 2, 2009 in the memory of Mahatama Gandhi.
Dr Manmohan Singh took the oath as the Prime Minister of India on 22 May 2004. Dr Singh, had served as the Finance Minister under Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and is credited with starting the liberalisation process in the country.
Congress, under Smt Sonia Gandhi, leads United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to victory in Election defeating the BJP led NDA. Soniaji was elected the head of the Paliamentary Party and was asked to head the UPA government as the Prime Minister.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi renounced the Prime Ministers post saying, "I was always certain that if ever I found myself in the position that I am in today, I would follow my own inner voice. Today, that voice tells me I must humbly decline this post. You have unanimously elected me your leader, in doing so, you have reposed your faith in me. It is this faith that has placed me under tremendous pressure to reconsider my decision. Yet, I must abide by the principles, which have guided me all along".
The Special Session took place in strained circumstances. Upset at the attacks by a few party leaders, Sonia ji had tendered her resignation. However, the the outpouring of support from all levels of the party compelled her to reconsider. During her address, she said: ' stand before you today as a proud Congressperson, doubly resolved to lead the fight for our beloved country. No longer shall we tolerate the negative forces that seek to target the dignity of a woman through calumny and falsehood."
Riots broke out in Gujarat after a mob set fire to bogey S-6 of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra station. Over a 1000 people, most of them Muslims are estimated to have been killed in the ghastly violence that ensued. Numerous reports have exposed the role played by the state officials in the riots and the failure of the state machinery in protecting the people. The riots showed the true face of the BJP.
During her presidential address, Sonia ji termed the need to revive the Congress as 'a national imperative' rather than a mere partisan requirement. ' see it as my primary task as Congress President to restore to the Congress the vision of the Congress centenary' Power to the People through the panchayats; and Power to the Congress worker through democracy within the Party..' she said.
Smt Sonia Gandhi held a "brainstorming"session or Chintan Shivir at Pachmarhi. One of the most significant developments at Pachmarhi was that the party drafted a 14 point plan for Panchayati Raj and an 8-point plan for agriculture. The party committed itself to tackle communal forces, especially in the context of the rising political fortunes of the BJP.
In the run up to the General Elections, Congress appeared demoralised and leaders were threatening to leave the party. Psephologists predicted disaster. Many Congress leaders persuaded Smt Sonia Gandhi to campaign for the party to revive its sagging fortunes.
Smt Sonia Gandhi persuaded to take over as Congress President to start the revival of the party
The Congress lost the 1996 general elections with its tally dropping to 140. P.V. Narasimha Rao resigned from the presidentship of the party. Sitaram Kesri was elected as the new Congress president. To keep the communal forces at bay, the party decided to provide outside support to the United Front government, under the leadership of H.D. Deve Gowda and later Inder Kumar Gujral.
Smt Sonia Gandhi took the primary membership of the party at the Calcutta Session in 1997. In her address, she said "Our ideology of nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism is the only relevant ideology for our goal country. "