Congress president Sonia Gandhi today set the tone for her party’s poll agenda, stressing that the general elections due by May will be a battle of “conflicting ideologies” and “interpretations of the past and clashing visions of the future.”
Reiterating her party’s commitment to secularism she said, “The BJP wants to divide people.” And insisted that the Congress is not using the secular card as a poll tactic.
She called the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 “a battle for the preservation of secular traditions,” and asserted that, “the Congress is ready and prepared for the battle ahead.”
Mrs Gandhi, whose throat was clearly troubling her, began her speech in English and then switched to Hindi. She enumerated the many policies the UPA government her party leads had initiated and asserted its commitment to combating corruption.
Before she began her address to 3000 party leaders and workers, she asserted that her decision on Rahul Gandhi’s role for the 2014 general elections was final. Even as she spoke, there were slogans demanding Rahul Gandhi’s nomination as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
Yesterday, at a meeting of the party’s working committee, Mrs Gandhi decided that her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi will not be the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate, but will lead the party as its campaign-in-chief in an election many believe will be tough for the party to win.
After more than a decade in power, the Congress is lagging well behind the BJP in opinion polls. In recent elections in key states like Delhi, Mr Gandhi was the star campaigner for the Congress but failed to deliver, with the party performing miserably.