We will emerge with a new self-confidence, a new energy and inspired by a new commitment,
Opening Remarks by Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi at ‘Nav Sankalp Shivir’ in Udaipur, Rajasthan from May 13-15, 2022
Our ‘Chintan Shivir’ in this historic city with such a glorious heritage has as its theme - Nav Sankalp.
It gives us an opportunity to discuss amongst ourselves the numerous challenges that the country is facing as a result of the policies of the BJP and of the RSS and its affiliates. Being a political organization ourselves, it is also an occasion to deliberate on the many tasks ahead of us.
So, it is both a chintan about national issues and a meaningful atma-chintan about our party organization.
I am well aware that many of our colleagues wanted to be here but we had to limit participation for a variety of reasons. I am sure they will all understand. Not being here does not in any way devalue the role they are playing in our organization.
By now, it has become abundantly and most painfully clear what Prime Minister Modi and his colleagues really mean by their frequently repeated slogan: ‘Maximum governance, Minimum government’.
It means keeping the country in a state of permanent polarization, compelling our people to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity.
It means viciously targeting, victimizing and often brutalizing minorities who are an integral part of our society and are equal citizens of our republic.
It means using our society’s age-old pluralities to divide us and subverting the carefully nurtured idea of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
It means threatening and intimidating political opponents, maligning their reputations, jailing them on flimsy pretexts, misusing investigative agencies against them.
It means eroding the independence and professionalism of all institutions of democracy.
It means the wholesale reinvention of history, the constant denigration of our leaders especially Jawaharlal Nehru and systematic moves to distort, deny and destroy their contributions, achievements and sacrifices.
It means glorifying the killers of Mahatma Gandhi and their ideologues.
It means the blatant undermining of the principles and provisions of our nation’s Constitution, of its pillars of justice, liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism.
It means turning a blind eye to continued atrocities across the country on weaker sections, especially dalits, adivasis and women.
It means using fear to make the bureaucracy, to make corporate India, to make civil society and sections of the media fall in line.
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.
It is not just the undermining of our long-cherished values embodied in the Constitution that are now at grave risk. The fires of hatred and discord that are being ignited have taken a heavy toll on peoples’ lives. This is having serious social consequences in the form of violence.
The vast majority of Indians want to live in an atmosphere of peace, amity and harmony. The BJP, its cohorts and surrogates want to keep our people in a state of perpetual frenzy and conflict. They constantly provoke, instigate and inflame. We have to combat this growing virus of divisiveness that is being maliciously and mischievously spread. This we must do at all costs.
We must sustain high economic growth to provide adequate employment opportunities for our youth, generate revenues needed for welfare programmes and improve the standard of living of our people. But the worsening environment of social illiberalism and bigotry shakes the very foundations of economic growth.
Starting with the disastrous demonetization of November 2016, the economy has been on a steep downslide. A large majority of MSMEs have been crippled. Unemployment has risen alarmingly and for the first time, it appears that vast numbers of people have simply stopped looking for jobs.
Whatever support the Central Government has been able to provide in the past two years to people has been on account of at least two landmark initiatives of the Congress party—Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the National Food Security Act.
The sheer tenacity of the farmers and their organizations compelled the Modi Government to repeal the three black farm laws. I am deeply contended that the Congress party stood by them steadfastly throughout their long struggle, both within Parliament and outside. But the promises made by the Prime Minister to the farmers when they withdrew their agitation have yet to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, it looks as if procurement of wheat this year will fall steeply; threatening the very foundations of our national food security.
Prices of essential items of mass consumption—like cooking gas, cooking oil, pulses, vegetables, fertilizers, petrol and diesel-- continue their upward march, placing an intolerable burden on crores of families.
Public sector companies built up with such careful planning with economic and social objectives in mind by earlier Congress governments are now being privatized with a vengeance, and to a chosen few. This will have disastrous repercussions. Among other things, this means that one avenue for assured employment for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes will get closed.
Translated from Hindi Friends,This great and powerful organization of ours has been expected to show its resilience from time-to-time. And our organization has responded effectively each time.
We are expected yet again to show our courage, fortitude and spirit of dedication.
But the circumstances that have arisen before our organization today are unprecedented. Extraordinary situations can be dealt with only in extraordinary ways. I am fully aware of this. Changes from time-to-time are indispensable in every organization - not only to survive but also to grow. We are in dire need of reforms – changes in strategy, structural reforms and changes in the way we work every day. This is the most fundamental issue. But I also want to emphasize that our resurgence will be possible only through great collective efforts. And those colossal collective efforts, cannot, and will not, be avoided. This ‘Shivir’ is an impressive step in this long journey.
In our long and golden history, a time has come when we have to subordinate our personal aspirations to the interests of the organization. The party has given a lot to all of us. Now is the time to reciprocate. In my understanding, nothing is more important than doing this.
Friends, I urge you all to keep your views open. But, only one message should go out there- the message of organization’s strength, determination and unity. This will definitely have to be maintained. We are not oblivious to the recent setbacks. Nor are we ignorant of the struggle or the difficulties of the struggle that we have to go through to win. We are not unaware of the peoples’ expectations of us.
We have gathered to take this pledge - individually and collectively. We will have to make our Party bounce back into politics of the country with the same role that the party has always played and the role which is expected by the people of the country; given these deteriorating conditions.
We are introspecting here with all humility, but today let us resolve that when we leave from here, we will emerge with a new self-confidence, a new energy and inspired by a new commitment.
Thank you, Jai-Hind.