New Delhi, Nov.2 (ANI): Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday touched upon a host of issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism, price rise, Naxalism, the Women's Reservation Bill and the party's preparations for the next round of state assembly elections, besides targeting the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and praising the Ayodhya verdict.
Addressing the issue of Jammu and Kashmir during a day-long session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) here, Gandhi expressed her anguish over the deaths of youngsters during recent protests in the Kashmir Valley.
"I speak for all of us when I express my anguish at the loss of young lives in Kashmir. I share their grief. Their loss is a national loss. The whole generation has seen nothing but violence and conflict," she said.
She noted that a "new situation" had emerged in the state and appealed to all dissatisfied sections to trust the government and give peace a chance so that the future of next generations could be built. tating that priority should be on development of Jammu and Kashmir, Sonia said: "There has to be a meaningful political dialogue with all parties and all region," she said.
Speaking on the issue of terrorism, she said: "The threat is for real, and, we will never relax our vigil against terrorism".
In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Sonia said it was "crystal clear" as to who was behind the attacks on November 26, 2008 in Mumbai.
On Naxalism, Sonia said while firm police action was necessary, there was a need for emphasis on socio-economic development.
Sonia also spoke on the issue of inflation, as she said food prices have come down, but there was a "need to bring these down further", and put the onus on States to deliver in this area.
On the issue of women reservations, she said the Congress party is committed to introducing the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha soon.
It may be noted that the Women Reservation Bill, seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament, was earlier passed in the Rajya Sabha with the main Opposition party Bharatiya Janata Party extending its support to the government proposed Bill.
Gandhi also criticised communal incidents in the country, saying that the Allahabad High Court ruling on the Ayodhya title suit "in no way - in no way- condones the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. This was shameful- a criminal act - for which the perpetrators must be brought to justice".
"We all remember how tense the country was in the days prior to the judgement. It is a tribute to our people that they ensured that peace and harmony prevailed," Gandhi added.
She said: "The broader message for us all is that our fight against communalism of all kinds, against fanaticism of all types has to continue unabated. This is a political struggle for a secular India."
While expressing her deep concern over rising prices, Sonia said that though inflation had come down to an extent, still it needed to be further brought down.
She said the states were responsible for operating the Public Distribution System (PDS) and also should take action against black marketeers, hoarders and speculators.
She wanted partymen in opposition-ruled states to take the lead in pressurising the governments there to take action in this regard.
Meanwhile, what started with Rahul Gandhi's description of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) being as "fundamentalist" as the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) a few days ago, was given full fledged support at the daylong All India Congress Committee's day-long session here.
The Congress today went full throttle in attacking the RSS and its sister organisations, accusing them of being involved in terrorism while maintaining the view that the Allahabad High Court's Ayodhya verdict did not condone the 1992 Babri mosque demolition.
Sonia Gandhi during her speech today said that the Congress party and the governments led by her party will "forcefully" resist attempts by anyone to abuse religion for political gains.
On the issue of Allahabad High Court's Ayodhya verdict, Sonia sought to clarify that it in "no way condones" the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6,1992 and described the mosque demolition as a "shameful, criminal act", adding that "all those responsible must be brought to justice."
Senior Congress leader and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today stated through a AICC statement that "recent revelations through detailed investigations have exposed the true character of RSS and its sister organisations. The investigations indicate the involvement of its members in terrorist activities."
While justifying the inclusion of references to the RSS, Mr. Mukherjee said, "The RSS organisation is to be exposed. Their links with terrorist activities which have been recently highlighted through the revelations are to be brought in."
However, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, hailed the role of Sonia Gandhi as the "longest serving" party President for 12 years and her efforts to bring the party to power at the Centre for a second continuous term.
Dr. Singh expressed confidence that under her leadership the party would continue to be in power for a long time.
Making an unscheduled speech on this occasion, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, called for focussing on the common man, as he said that" we have to take them forward in the similar manner as Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is leading the nation forward."
"In the last five to six years, I have toured all of India. Cities, villages...Two things have been very clear, if we have to take our nation forward, only the strength of the poor man can take us forward," he said.
"But if we have to take the poor forward, the way the PM is taking the nation forward, that's what we need," he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Rahul Gandhi exhorted his party men to work to get the two India's together.
"One is progressing fast, one is the poor India which is not progressing. Our work is to join both." And only the Congress could do this," he said.
Interestingly, some senior Congressmen spoke during the AICC session, but none made a veiled reference to the raging Adarsh Housing Society scam in which the Congress leaders of Maharashtra are facing allegations of irregularities. Nor was a mention made of the Commonwealth Games fiasco.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and CWG Organising Committee President Suresh Kalmadi were present at the meeting.
It may be recalled that Chavan's fate is hanging in balance after three of his relatives were found to be members of the controversial housing society and Kalmadi is under the scanner of probe agencies investigating allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Games.
However, one of the highlights of the meeting was the unanimous authorisation by the 1,000-odd AICC delegates to Sonia Gandhi to nominate the entire Congress Working Committee, the highest policy-making body of the party, thereby making today's schedule for the elections to the CWC redundant.
The session was meant to ratify the re-election of Sonia Gandhi as party President for the fourth time.
Sonia has created a record by remaining at the helm for the longest tenure in the history of the organisation, which is currently celebrating its 125th year. (ANI)