New Delhi, Dec 14 : The Congress, which has been forced on the back foot by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following its big win in the the Lok Sabha elections, sought to revive the fighting spirit of its cadre by taking on the ruling party and the Narendra Modi government head on at a rally, here on Saturday.
The party deployed all its top guns to take on the central government over a number of issues, like the economic crisis, spate of crimes against women, rising inflation, misusing and undermining institutions and playing havoc with the spirit of the Constitution.
The Bharat Bachao rally at the historic Ramlila Maidan was aimed at infusing new life in the Congress workers, who, of late, have been feeling low and outnumbered by the BJP.
Even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was appointed General Secretary in January, made her debut as a speaker at the rally. Priyanka instantly established a connect with the party workers when she talked about the Modi government’s failure on many fronts, like economy, price rise, employment, failure to ensure safety for women, disinvestment of Navratna PSUs and privatisation of the Indian Railways.
When she underlined her criticism of the government with the BJP’s ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ (With Modi, everything is possible), the assembled party supporters went into rapture.
Talking about the Unnao rape victim, who was burnt alive by the rape accused, the Congress leader said her interactions with the victim’s family reminded her of the “bloodied body” of her father — late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi, addressing his first rally in the national capital after the Lok Sabha polls, said he would not apologise (over ‘Rape in India’ remark made in Jharkhand on Thursday,) like the Sangh and its ideologue V.D. Savarkar. “I am not Rahul Savarkar, I am Rahul Gandhi and won’t apologise for speaking the truth,” he said.
The Gandhi trio — Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi — rapped the government over abrogation of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act. They blamed the Modi government for the unrest in the northeast following amendment to the Citizenship Act.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who is on bail after the 106-day judicial, CBI and ED custody in connection with the INX media case, also connected with the crowd and criticised government for not fulfilling electoral promises, like providing jobs and doubling farm income.
It was also apparently a show of strength ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls, likely early next year. The Congress, which ruled in the national capital for 15 years between 1998 to 2013, was reduced to zero seats in the 2015 Assembly elections.
All roads to the rally venue were decked with party posters and flags. Hundreds of Congress leaders and workers from UP, Uttarakhand, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and other states, thronged the venue.
According to Congress leaders, lakhs of party activists were at the Ramlila Maidan and thousands outside the venue. They also claimed that many were stopped at traffic intersections.
However, it was the first rally in a decade when the Congress could fill the large ground in the heart of the city.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])