Speech of Congress Parliamentary Party leader, Smt. Sonia Gandhi at CPP General Body Meeting
Saturday, 1st June 2019
Central Hall, Parliament House
I welcome you to the first meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party before the Constitution of the 17th Lok Sabha. Each one of you has fought one of the hardest elections of our career. We were up against an election machinery with all odds stacked against us – unlimited resources, ability to manipulate public opinion and the spread of mischievous propaganda. I congratulate you for standing up successfully for the values and ideals of the Congress party.
Our karyakartas are our front-line soldiers. They have worked selflessly for the last five years. They ensured that the India we stand for is spread far and wide, to every corner of our great country. I want to thank them for their innumerable sacrifices in the face of unprecedented hostility from the ruling party. It is their resilience that has led to 12.3 crore voters reposing their faith in the Congress party.
I want to thank each one of the 12.3 crore voters. Your vote to the Congress party is a vote for safeguarding our Constitution, a vote for economic and social progress, a vote for liberty, and for social justice.
I also take this opportunity to whole-heartedly thank Rahul Ji for his valiant and relentless campaign. As Congress President, he has given his all and toiled night and day for the Congress party. He demonstrated his fearless leadership, by taking the Modi government head on. He highlighted the injustices carried out against farmers, workers, traders and small businesses, against the youth, women and the marginalised sections of our society.
He has rejuvenated the Congress organisation in many states, and most recently lead us to victory in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. As Congress President, he earned the respect and love of every worker and crores of voters across the length and breadth of our country. Even as I speak, emotional messages are coming from all corners, vindicating his leadership. We all express our gratitude to him for his sincerity of purpose, his relentless effort, his hard work and leadership.
In this time of crisis, we must acknowledge the numerous challenges confronting the Congress party. The Congress Working Committee met a few days ago to deliberate the next steps and the way forward for us. Several decisive measures to strengthen the party are being discussed.
Even though we were only 44 members in the previous Lok Sabha, and about 55 in the Rajya Sabha, under Rahulji’s leadership, the Congress party has fought bravely to expose the government’s misdeeds. I want to congratulate all of them for their hard work. We were in the forefront of ensuring that some of the UPA’s historic Acts were not diluted. At the same time, we cooperated with the government on a series of reforms, with constructive suggestions. This time too, we will support progressive and inclusive policies but oppose the government strongly whenever they undertake divisive and regressive actions.
We must remember that our numbers in the Rajya Sabha will be challenged, and therefore it is even more important to ensure better coordination and cooperation with like-minded parties. The issues we raise in Parliament, must resonate in the minds of our Party workers and with the public.
To be an effective Opposition, all of us Members of Parliament must have our finger on the pulse of the people, set the agenda in Parliament, ensure consistency and relentless follow-up of issues that matter, including through Standing Committees and other parliamentary forums.
We are not going to let our guard down. We must hold the Government accountable to their promises. Progress is currently being measured through manufactured data. Progress must be measured with truth. We will continue to fight for truth and transparency.
We must assure the people of India that we will fulfill the responsibility of an alert and responsible opposition to strengthen our democracy and safeguard our Constitution. We will hold the government accountable in Parliament. We will be at the forefront of the fight for the rights of the people, both in Parliament and on the streets.
In an unprecedented crisis, lies an unprecedented opportunity. It is up to us to grasp it with humility and self-confidence, drawing the appropriate lessons from our defeat. The people of India expect us to honour their mandate by renewing and reinvigorating ourselves. Undeterred by the many challenges that lie ahead, we will rise again.