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PM 'cynically exploiting' national security issue to divert attention from 'colossal failures': Cong

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By Sanjeev Chopra (Eds: Adding details) Ahmedabad, Mar 12 (PTI) Challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his bastion, the Congress Tuesday pledged to expose his "betrayals and falsehoods" and accused him of "cynically exploiting national security for political gains". At the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met in Ahmedabad after 58 years, the political symbolism was there for all to see as the party sought to project the 2019 elections as a battle of Mahatma Gandhi's idea of India versus Nathuram Godse's idea of India. The CWC also reaffirmed its commitment to serve the country and the people in its endeavour for inclusive growth and shared prosperity. "The CWC assures the people that the Congress party believes in what it promises and has proven its credibility on delivering the same," the party's resolution said. The Congress also urged all democratic and progressive forces to unite and pool their energies to relentlessly fight and expose the BJP government, and not to allow the nation's political narrative be vitiated and focus deflected from the real issues that concern the people. "An atmosphere of fear and insecurity is all pervasive particularly among women, students, academics, writers and the business community; there are deliberate attacks on the constitutional and other safeguards for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and minorities; and there is subversion of all institutions of governance," the strongly-worded resolution said. The party said it seeks a "mandate for better governance and accountability, to repair the grave damage caused to our democratic polity, economy and society by the Modi government, a mandate for change to restore the health of the Indian economy, for job creation, social justice and harmony". In his speech at the CWC meeting, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi underlined the need to fight such forces together and said, "On the anniversary of Gandhi ji's historic Dandi March, the Congress Working Committee in Ahmedabad, resolved to defeat the RSS/BJP ideology of fascism, hatred, anger and divisiveness." In a tweet, earlier in the day, he said, "No sacrifice is too great in this endeavour; no effort too little; this battle will be won." He said Congress will not allow Modi to once again "mislead and befool" the people. Before the CWC, the party top brass paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram from where he had commenced the Dandi March 89 years ago. Soon afterwards the Congress brigade moved to Sardar Patel Memorial Hall to conduct the CWC proceedings, reaffirming the CWC's commitment to the ideals espoused by the Mahatma and Patel later. In her speech, Sonia Gandhi accused Modi of playing the "victimhood card" saying it were the people instead who were victims of his "wrong policies". She wanted Congress to come out with a vision for the country going forward as also highlight the achievements of the UPA government. She also said the issue of corruption in the Rafale deal should be highlighted in a big way. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh talked about the agrarian crisis, hampered industrial growth and unemployment under the present regime at the Centre. The meeting started with a two-minute silence in memory of the victims of the Pulwama terror attack. The day also saw newly-appointed AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressing her maiden poll rally. "This (read election) is no less than the struggle for India's freedom," she told a receptive gathering at Gandhinagar, urging the voice of change to be sent out aloud from Gujarat. In her short speech, Priyanka also warned the voters against being swayed by irrelevant issues. "Vote is a weapon, use it cautiously. Take the right decision, ask the right questions," she said as the CWC earlier resolved to "not let PM Modi deflect attention of the people from the basic issues of joblessness, agrarian distress, low economic growth and poor security of women". She also asked people to focus on issues concerning people and not allow the BJP to change the narrative. While unequivocally backing any attempt against terror, the CWC accused Modi of "cynically exploiting the issue of national security, on which we are all united, to divert attention from his colossal failures, bogus claims and persistent falsehoods", the CWC said in its resolution. The unstated reference was to the post Pulwama attack events. The Congress also alleged that the five years of the Modi government has been a period of "false promises and betrayal of people's trust and confidence". On whether the issue of alliances was discussed in the meeting, senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma later replied in the negative. So far the alliance arithmetic has not worked to Congress' favour with the BSP announced it won't have any truck with the party and the AAP also declaring candidates in six out of seven LS seats in Delhi. Sharma referred to the AICC Plenary which last year adopted a political resolution that said the Congress would strike alliances with like minded parties to keep the BJP at bay. "CWC flows from the Plenary. The issue of alliances was discussed in the Plenary and the previous resolution stands," Sharma said. Asked if that meant a reworking of Congress thought in Delhi, Bengal and UP, Sharma replied, "I cannot say." While Congress sharpened its anti-BJP pitch, in Maharashtra, the son of the leader of the opposition and veteran Congressman RK Vikhe Patil joined the saffron party. In Gujarat too, the Congress has lost four MLAs to the BJP in recent days while Hardik Patel joined. PTI SKC ZMN

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