Congress President Sonia Gandhi addressing the AICC session said that meaningful political dialogue with all shades and regions of J&K was required for a peaceful and prosperous future. She urged the people of J&K, especially the youth, to have faith in the government and give peace a chance. While expressing anguish over the loss of so many young lives in recent past, Congress President said that an entire generation has seen violence and death but this isn't the future. She also applauded the role of our security personnel who had been confronted with most difficult and delicate situations.
Talking about the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya issue, Congress President said that the judgment in no way condones the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. She said that it was shameful and criminal act and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice. She pointed out about the tense situation prevailing in the country in the days prior to the judgment. Applauding the maturity of Indians, she said that it was a tribute to our country that the people ensured peace and harmony prevailed. She called on the Congress members to fight against communalism of all kinds, against fanaticism of all types and said that this fight has to continue unabated. She termed it as a political struggle for a secular India.
Congress President also mentioned that the terrorist threat was real and constant and the government shall never relax its vigil. Reminding the gathering that it would very soon be 2 years since the brutal attacks in Mumbai, Congress President emphasized that those responsible for this ghastly tragedy must be brought to justice.
Talking about pioneering programmes initiated by the Central Government, she said that RTI is playing a vital role in India and MNREGS has become a landmark achievement for UPA. So was the Right to Education Act in providing compulsory education to children between 6-14 years of age. Mrs. Gandhi also mentioned that despite lot of opposition, Congress Party was committed for the Women's Reservation Bill which will enable 33 percent reservation for women in LokSabha.
She also talked about the Food Security Bill which is aimed at guaranteeing food security to majority of people. Congress President further said that an amendment in the Land Acquisition Law was also being proposed which shall be very beneficial to the farmers.
Mrs. Gandhi reiterated that economic reforms were very necessary to continue with the developmental works at a rapid pace. She pointed out that without high growth rate, MNREGS and other schemes could not be possible. She also said that environment had become a national issue and called for sustainable growth strategies paying utmost care to environmental concerns. Quoting Late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Congress President quoted, "Whenever environment is damaged, a bit of India dies".
On the issue of inflation, Congress President acknowledged that high prices were an issue of concern for the Central Government but at the same time added that State Governments also should initiate measures to curb high inflation. She stressed that action against hoarding and black-marketing was a prerogative of the state government but instead of doing their bit, state governments were unreasonably passing the buck on the centre.
Talking about Naxalism or left-wing extremism, Congress President said that it was a serious internal security threat. She said that though police action is necessary but greater emphasis on economic issues was essential for a long-term solution. She said that greater sensitivity for daily concerns of tribals living in that area is a must. While these areas need to be developed yet it is important let the local inhabitants a say in nature of development, she said. Congress President pointed that destruction of tribal habitats through indiscriminate exploitation of their natural resources does not end the abject poverty in which they are languishing.
Congress President reminded the gathering that Congress Party had led the national freedom movement. It was Congress Party which ensured a secular India. She said that Congress has a special place in the hearts of Indians and called the participants to try and maintain Congress's dignity at any cost. She said that it called for great ideals and high level of dedication in each and every party worker.
Expressing satisfaction at the democratic and transparent process adopted in selection of office bearers of Youth Congress and NSUI, Congress President said that such steps have strengthened the Congress Party and had helped in attracting more and more youth in Congress. This was necessary to ensure that Congress not just remains a party for elections, but truly touches the lives of the common man, she said.
She mentioned that state elections are due in next 2 years in almost 10 states and the Party should be prepared for these electoral contests. She urged the party workers to work at the grassroots level as a preparation to the forthcoming state elections.