RAIPUR: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said she was glad that her innings could conclude with the party’s mass outreach programme,’Bharat Jodo Yatra’, while describing it as “a turning point” for the party. The 85th plenary session of the Congress party began on Friday in Nava Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
Addressing the gathering on the second day of Congress’ three-day brainstorming session here, Sonia Gandhi said, “Our victories in 2004 and 2009, along with the able leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh, gave me personal satisfaction, but what gratifies me the most is that my innings could conclude with the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a turning point for Congress”.
The former Congress chief accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre of subverting every institution in the country. “This is a challenging time for Congress and the country as a whole. The BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have captured and subverted every single institution in the country. It ruthlessly silences any voice of the Opposition. It has caused economic ruin by favouring a few businessmen”, she added in a veiled attack on Centre amid the row over Hindenburg’s report on the Adani group.
Notably, the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra traversed 12 states and two Union territories in 145 days after its launch on September 7 last year and covered 4,080 km. The yatra culminated with an event at the Congress headquarters in Srinagar and a mega rally on January 30.
The Congress claimed that Bharat Jodo Yatra was the longest march on foot by any Indian politician in the history of India. The party said it received support from various political parties and social organisations across the country. The Congress suffered a debacle in the Assembly polls held last year and the Yatra was seen as an attempt to encourage the party rank and file for the upcoming electoral battles.
Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also addressed the session on Saturday. “We will face all challenges in the country. Bharat Jodo yatra was like sunshine for the nation. Thousands joined hands with Rahul Gandhi and proved that Congress is still in their hearts. Rahul inspired youth”, he said.
“To stop this plenary session, the BJP government conducted a raid on party workers’ residences. They arrested our workers. But we faced them and held this session”, added the Congress chief.
Earlier on Saturday, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi arrived in Raipur to attend the 85th plenary session of the party. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel received Priyanka Gandhi at the airport. Congress workers laid flower petals on the street to welcome Priyanka Gandhi and other leaders in Raipur.
Former party chief Rahul Gandhi will address the plenary on February 26. The steering committee of the Congress met on Friday morning and decided to go for nomination of members to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in view of the challenges faced by the party and the proposed amendments to the party’s constitution.
There was some speculation that Congress may opt for elections to the CWC, a demand that has been raised from time to time by sections in the party. The CWC is the highest-decision-making body of Congress.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said 16 articles and 32 rules are proposed to be amended and an important amendment was to provide 50 per cent reservation in the working committee for SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and youth below the age of 50.
The party is likely to amend the constitution to confer party leaders who have been Prime Ministers and party chiefs permanence in the CWC. (ANI)