Respect alliances, don’t compromise on Congress revival: Sonia

Jaipur: With the Lok Sabha polls just a little more than a year away, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday said party's revival in weak states should not not be compromised at the altar of alliance politics.
In a candid admission in her opening speech at the 2-day "Chintan Shivir" (brainstorming conclave) that Congress was facing "increased competition and inroads" into its traditional base, she said "unity and discipline" was the need of the hour in the party.
She formed five separate groups, including one on "emerging political challenges" headed by A K Antony in which P Chidamaram is a participant, for deeper discussion.
Ahead of the start of the conclave, there was a clamour from senior leaders for Rahul Gandhi to play a larger role in the organisation.
Seeking "free, fearless and frank views" from the participants, Gandhi surprisingly made a reference to the "growing educated and middle classes", an apparent message to the party to woo them.
Gandhi, who is also the Chairperson of UPA, made it clear that Congress has to "strike a balance" between respecting alliances where it has tied up with other parties and "ensuring that the partys rejuvenation is not compromised".
"In states in which we are in alliance we have to strike a balance between respecting these alliances and ensuring that the party's rejuvenation is not not compromised," Gandhi said.
"We must admit that we now face increased competition and inroads have been made into our traditional support bases.
There are some states, where we have been out of power for too long and, although I too believe that being in power is not the sole purpose of political activities, this does have an adverse impact on our morale and organisation ability," she said.
Flagging the need to develop leadership at all levels, Gandhi said, "Performance, not patronage, must be the ladder to advancement in the part.

"We must build leadership at all levels, a leadership that is proactive and that is not afraid of moving forward, and taking up issues and programmes which highlight the concerns and aspirations of the people".

The Congress President underlined the need for coming together of party men by setting aside personal ambitions and egos, and working cohesively in states, "where we are out of power especially so that the party triumphs".

"Unity will not come from pious declarations of intent.

It has to come from within. Unity is the cry of each and every worker of our great organisation and it is our sacred duty to respond to it," she said.

Seeking free, fearless and frank views from the participants, Gandhi asked them to find responses when people are expecting much more from political parties.

"We cannot allow our growing educated and middle classes to be disillusioned and alienated from the political process..we are here on serious business, which will determine our futurewe must go with a clear and unified sense of purpose," she said.