Combative Rahul mounts blistering attack on Modi at AICC meet

06:41:00

NEW DELHI: Seeking to dispel the demoralisation in the wake of recent electoral debacle, a combative Rahul Gandhi on Friday mounted a blistering attack on Narendra Modi saying those dreaming about Congress-free India will themselves be destroyed. Joining his mother Sonia Gandhi, Rahul accused the BJP of lighting fires of communal hatred and setting people against each other as the party sought support of all like-minded political and social forces to come together at "this critical juncture". In his 45-minute spirited address here at the AICC session, which was repeatedly cheered by delegates from across the country, the Congress vice president and Sonia Gandhi put an end to the debate over projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate, saying the party has the tradition of PM being elected by the MPs. Giving a battle cry for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Rahul said the Congress is ready for the tough challenge ahead and "we will not stop till the battle is won". Tearing into BJP and its PM candidate Modi for his 'Congress-free India' campaign, he said Congress is a "thought" which cannot be erased. "Whoever has tried to do it, has himself got destroyed". Seeking to widen the party's reach, he focussed on issues related to the youth, women, downtrodden sections and a new constituency of people who have risen above the poverty line and are aspiring to be part of the middle class, saying he would fight for their cause. In a virtual directive, Rahul asked the government to raise the annual cap of subsidised LPG cylinders from 9 to 12, a point that was lustily cheered by the audience. In a bid to lift the morale of the cadre, he said however dark the night may be and tough the battle may be, the Congress will go in as "warrior" with "head high" and "not lose courage." Setting new norms for ticket distribution, Rahul, who will lead the Congress campaign, said party hoppers will not be given tickets but will go to those who have "Congress in their blood". Apparently taking a leaf out of Aam Aadmi Party's strategy, he said tickets for 15 Lok Sabha seats will be given on the basis of feedback from local units and if the experiment works, it will be expanded to legislatures. CWC decision on Rahul final: Sonia Gandhi The CWC decision not to anoint Rahul Gandhi as Prime Ministerial candidate did not deter party workers from voicing their clamour but Sonia Gandhi put an end to any debate asserting that the decision taken last night was "final". As soon as the AICC meeting began at the packed Talkatora Stadium here, loud demands were made that the Congress Vice President be declared the PM candidate ahead of the general elections. The Congress President immediately made it clear that the last night's decision not to nominate him as PM candidate is final, in an apparent bid to avoid any further debate on the issue. But as the leaders shouted that Rahul be made the PM candidate other party leaders intervened to drop enough indications that despite the absence of a formal decision, it is the Congress Vice President, who will become Prime Minister if the party comes to power. The slogan shouting continued even as Sonia Gandhi rose to speak, prompting her to declare "a decision has been taken in the CWC and that decision is final." However, the workers continued with their Rahul as PM candidate pitch. AICC general secretary, Organisation, Janardan Dwivedi tried to persuade the party workers to keep "patience" telling them in unequivocal terms that it is Rahul Gandhi who will be the leader in future. "Whenever the question that you are referring to will arise, is there any other name than that of Rahul Gandhi.Is there any alternative to Rahul Gandhi.Is there any other leader in Congress for that. If it is not so, then why do you not understand it properly," he said. Highlights of Rahul Gandhi's speech at AICC meet: * Democracy is not ruled by one man. * We've asked the youth and women, will ask Dalits, farmers, labourers and businessmen what they want and make a manifesto accordingly. * We enforced a minimum wage and gave the country the highest growth rate in its history. * We will ask the block presidents, workers, district president to directly select candidates in 15 Lok Sabha constituencies. * In the next year, we will work towards bringing the poor like security guards, labourers into the middle class level:. * The workers' voice will be heard by the Congress governments. * We have to open the Congress party to youth, the new generation, new thoughts. * I want to see 50% women at AICC sessions, Parliament and among chief ministers of state governments. * Nine cylinders are not enough, the women of India want 12 cylinders. * Our Opposition is so good it can even sell combs to bald people. Interestingly, the newest party can even give bald people haircut. * Our party MPs will choose the PM. * We are not assembled as individuals, we are here as trustees of an idea. This idea is greater than me, the PM, the Congress president and you. * I am a soldier of the Congress. I am willing to do whatever you want me to do. * India teaches us to remain united in the face of adversity. * No matter how much our shortcomings frustrate us, we love our country. * There is a tough battle ahead of us. We'll go into this battle as warriors with our heads held high

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