Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sonia lauds Chavan, Thakre at rally

SEWAGRAM : Congress president Sonia Gandhi not only set at rest any speculation that she would skip Friday\'s rally in Sewagram but also heaped praise on Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre for mobilising an impressive show of strength.

The Congress was placed in an embarrassing position on Thursday after a television channel aired clips of a private conversation between Mr. Thakre and the former Minister, Satish Chaturvedi, about the funding for the rally. But no traces of the problem could be seen at the rally near the historic Sewagram Ashram to mark the conclusion of the Sadbhavna Week, and the flag marches taken through the villages to commemorate the party\'s 125th year.

Ms. Gandhi landed a few hours late, in a helicopter near the jam-packed ground where the crowds had been waiting since noon. In her 10-minute speech, she apologised, attributing her delayed arrival to a snag in her aircraft.

She congratulated everyone on taking the party\'s message to the villages.

She referred to the spiritual connotations both Sewagram and the nearby Paunar Ashram had in the country\'s history. If every village had such strong sentiments, nothing could stop this country from becoming a super power.

Ms. Gandhi said such movements would give a fillip to the secular principles of the Congress. The politics that divided people on the basis of caste, religion, region and language weakened society, and to fight the forces that perpetrated it was a major challenge.

She invoked Mahatma Gandhi\'s principle that power gained through force and violence does not last long.

Referring to the 125 years of the Congress, she said it was a history of sacrifice. Down the years, Congress workers had shed blood for this country, and Maharashtra played a major role in this process.

The Congress politics was based on helping the poor and the weak, she said, outlining the new laws and schemes of the Central government. However, she cautioned that merely having laws was not enough; it was important for every citizen to assume responsibility to ensure that it was implemented.

The party organisation, she said, should play a key role in ensuring that the benefits of the government\'s policies reached the grassroots. It was the duty of the party workers to spread awareness of the new laws and policies and monitor their implementation to eliminate the scope for corruption.

Mr. Chavan said there was a question mark over the rally, but Ms. Gandhi had no doubts in her mind that she wanted to come and meet the people at Sewagram. He was happy that so many people had turned out for the rally and taunted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not being fortunate enough to have such large rallies.

The programme was the brainchild of Mr. Thakre, and it was launched a month ago to mark the 125th year of the party.

However, a section of the crowd jeered Mr. Chavan when he said farmers were happy since the State received good rains, and they were getting good prices for their produce.
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