Sonia Gandhi asks partymen to be ready for 2014 battle

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New Delhi, Dec 18: Doing some plainspeaking, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday conceded that lack of discipline and unity were among the reasons for the party's debacle in Assembly polls and asked the cadre not to despair and be ready for the "battle ahead" in 2014 general elections.

While acknowledging that there are many factors for the defeat, Gandhi said, "It is obvious that we have not been able to convince the people of our policies, programmes and achievements. We have not, it seems, been able to fulfil their aspirations."

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting here, the party chief also blamed lack of a "sense of discipline and unity" among the reasons for the party's defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Rajasthan. "We should not lose heart. There is another battle ahead of us, in May 2014 for which we must ready ourselves.

"Lack of discipline, unity were reasons for party's debacle in Assembly polls".

The Congress party has won and lost many elections. In victory or defeat, we must remember that it is our solemn duty to serve people to the best of our ability," she said. In his address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while the recent assembly election results have been "deeply disappointing", "we should not despair for the general elections in 2014." Singh said that assembly elections results in a few states are necessarily not an indication of what will happen in the general elections that follows months later.

"The general election next year will be fought on issues of national importance. While some of these very issues, may have been involved in the assembly elections, we will be judged in May by how we respond on national issues," he said. The Congress President also hit out at the Opposition, mainly the BJP, without naming it, and asked partymen to strongly speak against their ideology.

"Our opponents advocate policies of divisiveness and sectarian interests. They mock our secular ethos. Their ideology is illiberal and will prevent the continuing modernisation and emancipation of our country and our people. "We must not be afraid to speak for our ideals. We must not be afraid to speak against those, who offer only a narrow and destructive alternative," Gandhi said.

The party also distributed a booklet among its MPs that carried the achievements of UPA government and asked them to propagate it among the electorate more effectively.

PTI

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