Sunday 23 June 2024

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

Cong has a hard time as Sonia fails to pull crowds


If a crowd of hardly 4000 in Goa is any indication for Sonia Gandhi’s much-awaited rally today, than the Congress party has a hard time in forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, from the point of view of the educated lot.

But her last speech of the southern tour, the fifth in the row after sensational statements, has clearly indicated that the thrust of her campaign would be to capitalise on her widowhood and frontal attack on the BJP and its allies.

"It is a choice between harmony and progress and exploitation of our differences for the sake of power of all forms. The forthcoming elections will set a direction to move forward to the just, equitable and progressive society or slide backward into an era of mutual distrust, conflict and exploitation."

Can we intake our values and heritage by converting religion as an instrument to divide or choose the Congress, the only party which can provide strong, purposeful and stable government, she asked the crowd.

But unfortunately, she had few takers for the argument even in a state like Goa, where the Congress is ruling today. The applause was not spontaneous at all, proving Goa as an anti-climax of the first phase of her nationwide tour.

There were no cut-outs, but only two frames of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi below the podium, which was decorated aesthetically with flowers of three colours of the Congress flag. The Azad Maidan turned out to be merely "sentimental venue" with a small pandal where 2000 could sit and others could stand around it.

Not only Sonia but even chief minister Pratapsing Rane and GPCC chief Shantaram Naik recalled late Rajiv Gandhi’s last public speech at the venue on 17th May 1991, before he was assassinated at Sriperembudur. "Addressing a rally from this venue makes it more meaningful as my husband stood here last, four days before he was assassinated", she said.

Glorifying her family’s attachment towards Goa, she went on recalling how Nehru decided to liberate Goa from the Portuguese in 1961, how Indira Gandhi announced opinion poll in 1967 to decide on the issue of its merger into Maharashtra and how her late husband granted them statehood and resolved the language dispute in 1987.

"You have played a major role in socio-economic development of the country by practicing religious tolerance and social harmony. The rest of India has also admired your achievement in the stride of literacy, especially among the women, while also showing how to combine your sense of joy with the serious effort of promoting tourism while preserving the environment", she told the Goans.

Though opted to live a private life after witnessing worst and most tragic side of politics, she was compelled to put aside her own inclination as a step forward to help the Congress party, she said amidst applause.

"It was by experience, the dedication and passionate love for India of my mother-in-law and my husband and with their example and sacrifice, that my devotion to our country and her people became unwavering and absolute", she said, reasoning out her entry into public life.

The country is threatened by religious fundamentalism and cynical politics as well as narrow and selfish interests, which put themselves and their ambitions before the welfare of Indian people due to which, she claimed, she had decided to put traditional duty of the Nehru-Gandhi family before her personal considerations.

While asserting that India cannot prosper without its people inculcating scientific temper and taking dynamic initiative to implement it for socio-economic development, she felt only the 113-year old Congress can take India to the 21st century, to fulfill her husband’s dream of modern India.

"The Congress had its ups and downs like any other human institution. It may have made several mistakes at times. But there is a need of the Congress party today, more than ever before. I believe people will support us for a secular, stable and progressive Congress government".

Her 15-minute speech ended with an emotional appeal, but hardly with any enthusiasm seen among the crowd, who started moving out without listening to the Konkani translation made after her speech is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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