Refrain from infighting: Sonia to partymen in poll message (Lead)

February 8th, 2009 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Sounding the poll bugle, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday asked partymen to work unitedly for victory in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said while the “energy” of the young cadre would play a major role, it would be in tandem with the “experience” of senior party leaders.
Addressing a massive gathering of the party’s district chiefs and grassroots workers, the Congress president also gave a tough message to Pakistan, saying: “Terrorism is a big challenge and I want to tell people across the border that they should not mistake our calmness as our weakness. We have to fight this (terrorism) unitedly.”

Taking a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she said during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, “we had stood by the government during the terror attacks. But the same thing cannot be said about the BJP. They disturbed parliament, and delayed formation of important laws regarding fighting terrorism.”

Referring to the BJP raising once again the bogey of building the Ram temple at Ayodhya, she said: “Those who want to divide society, create polarisation on the basis of religion and those who use the name of Ram are against religion and cannot fight terrorism.”

Gandhi also reiterated that she favoured the “continued leadership” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Asking party workers to remain united, the Congress president said: “Whenever the Congress has lost, it is not only because of the opposition but because of internal disputes. We have to place the party before ourselves and work for the development and growth of the society and country.”

Signalling how the party would use the youth cadre, she said: “Today we have to use the experience of senior leaders and the energy of youth. We have many youth in the party, many get the benefit of family background, but many do not. We have to provide opportunity to youth from every section of society.”

Detailing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s programmes during the past five years, she said these must be highlighted by the workers during the poll campaign.

“The aam admi has been the overriding force of our economic policy. We have worked towards the welfare of farmers, the empowerment of women and welfare of weaker sections.

“We want people to reaffirm faith in the Congress. We are ready, we are prepared, we are confident,” Gandhi told the gathering at the Ramlila Grounds here.

She said the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme had been very effective and was “historic”. “It is improving the lives of the poorest sections”. The Right to Information Act has made administration transparent, accountable and enabled participation of people, and the mid day meal scheme was providing nourishment to children and making going to school more attractive.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was providing education to children, while the National Rural Health Mission had made healthcare more accessible.

Gandhi said every state, including the opposition National Democratic Alliance-ruled states, had received “unprecedented funding” for developmental activities, which was unlike when the NDA was in power, she added, taking a swipe at the opposition.

She also detailed the government’s loan waiver scheme and other welfare schemes for people.

The entire Congress hierarchy at the centre and from the states, along with all chief ministers and central ministers are attending the meet.

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan read out a message from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which said that the government had tried to fulfil the promises it made in 2004 when it came to power.

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