C

ongress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the party, under his leadership, would strike a balance between old and new guards to take the organisation forward. He also said that it was Congress alone which can unite the country and show the way.

Delivering the inaugural address at the Congress’ 84th plenary session, the first after taking over as president of the grand old party, Rahul Gandhi said the difference between the ruling dispensation and Congress is that while they spread anger and hatred, “we spread love and brotherhood”. 

“The Congress party alone can unite the country and show it the path forward,” he said. The plenary will conclude on Sunday with closing remarks being delivered by Rahul Gandhi.

Putting rest to rumours about there being differences between the old and the young faces of Congress in core leadership roles, he said, “If the youth will take the Congress party forward, it cannot move forward without the wisdom of experienced leaders. So, my task is to unite the seniors and the youth, to give a new direction.”

A reflection of his words could be seen in the people who spoke on the first day of the plenary. Mallikarjun Kharge, 75, leader of the Opposition, moved the Political Resolution which was seconded by Rajiv Satav, 43, Member of Parliament from Hingoli, Maharashtra.

Among the leaders who deliberated on the Political Resolution were senior leaders like Kamal Nath and Shashi Tharoor, while among the young leaders Amrinder Singh Raja Brar, president of the Youth Congress; Sachin Pilot, former Minister of Corporate Affairs; Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Minister of State for Power; Sushmita Dev, president of the All India Women Congress, addressed the plenary.

Making a scathing attack on the government, Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson, said, “The BJP has been intoxicated with power since 2014. ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ has been reduced to an electoral plank. BJP is spreading hatred and communal disharmony in the country to which Congress will not bow down.” 

She further showed her concern for the schemes that were introduced by the UPA regime and said, “It saddens me to see how the BJP government has ignored schemes like MGNREGA, Forest Rights, Land acquisition, RTI, to weaken them.”

Among key highlights of the first day of the Plenary Session was Congress’ political resolution, which emphasised on women’s empowerment, securing social justice, eradication of corruption, internal and external security environment, special status for Andhra Pradesh, judiciary, the tenth schedule, method of elections and simultaneous polling and on uniting the Opposition for the 2019 elections. 

The resolution further said, “We will adopt a pragmatic approach for co-operation with all like-minded parties and evolve a common workable programme to defeat the BJP-RSS in the 2019 elections.”

On the issue of reservation of seats in educational institutions and in workplaces, the party, in its resolution, said that “social equity and equality of opportunity cannot be achieved only by compulsory reservation or quota, but rather by a radical shift in the mindset of our institutions”. Party leaders also demanded that the Women’s Reservation Bill be passed in the Parliament. 

The resolution said, “The 84th Plenary of the Congress gives a clarion call to its rank and file to rise to the occasion to defend the foundational values of our republic and constitutional democracy. A resurgent Congress alone shall win back the idea of India as envisioned by the founding fathers of our nation.”

Amid popular Bollywood patriotic songs, and a slide show of random pictures that tried to summarise the idea of India, Rahul Gandhi welcomed the delegates in an under five minute speech, but promised the audience to deliver a detailed closing remark on Sunday. 

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