In Plenary Sessions, Congress Vows to 'Go All Out to Mobilise Like-Minded Secular Forces'

In three resolutions adopted with an eye on 2024 by the opposition party, Congress has promised greater attention to urban poor, an anti-discrimination law, a revival of India's key friendships with global players and more.

New Delhi: As day three of the Congress’s 85th plenary session gets underway in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur, with a speech from Rahul Gandhi and a concluding address by Mallikarjun Kharge, three resolutions on agriculture, social justice and the country’s youth will be voted on.

The plenary sessions began on Friday, February 24, and day one was marked by alleged revelations on how Chhattisgarh’s pollution officials felt the Enforcement Directorate’s lash after inspecting Adani Group factories, The Telegraph has reported.

The plenary has also seen the possibility of elections to its highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee, ruled out and the core member strength hiked to 35 from 23. The party has amended its constitution to allow a 50% reservation for members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women in the CWC.

A political resolution adopted on Saturday noted that the party will go “all out to identify, mobilise and align like-minded secular forces” to form a front against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We should include secular regional forces who agree with our ideology. There is an urgent need for a united opposition to take on the NDA on common ideological grounds. Emergence of any third force will provide advantage to the BJP/NDA.”

Two parties with ambitions to build third fronts are the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly the Telangana Rashtra Samithi under Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao) and Trinamool Congress (of Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee).

The party promised to “infuse new blood in leadership roles without creating new fault lines”.  It also said:

“The Congress party will prepare a Vision Document for 2024, following a largest-ever mass contact programme, which will encompass issues of unemployment, eradication of poverty, inflation, women empowerment, job creation, national security. Specially, the Congress must reverse the current regressive path of growth without improving the lives of the poorest.”

The resolution also promised double the total government expenditure on healthcare (to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product) by 2024-25 if it comes to power in 2024. It also condemned the attack on scientific temper by the BJP, promised police reforms, and the removal of outdated laws that restrict freedom of speech.

The resolution also had the promise of an Anti-Discrimination Law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, gender or language in housing, hostels, hotels, clubs, and so on.

In its economic resolution, the party vowed to create jobs, reorient the tax policy towards employees and wages and focus on trade. It promised that “all vacancies in government and semi-government bodies, the Armed Forces, the para-military forces and public sector undertakings” would be filled “immediately” under it.

The party also promised generous loans to self-help groups, attention to the social sector and the introduction of an “urban NREGA, similar to MGNREGA” to provide a safety net for the urban poor.

Addressing the Adani Group imbroglio, it said:

“We are not against any person rising from a humble place to become the second richest person in the world, but we are certainly against government-facilitated private monopolies. Such monopolies are against the public interest. More particularly, we are against individuals accused of fraud, corruption, and having objectionable relations with tax havens monopolising our national resources.”

In its international resolution, Congress recalled Jawaharlal Nehru’s “non-alignment policy,” and slammed the BJP government for eroding key global friendships.

It said:

“Platforms like SAARC, ASEAN have atrophied under the BJP government. We also need to reclaim our space in NAM and G77 groupings. The Congress commits to restoring and strengthening them. These will be used to continue to advocate for nuclear disarmament, and strict adherence to nuclear treaties…”

The failure of the BJP government to evolve and publish a national security strategy doctrine is deeply disappointing, it further said. It also promised to also restore the functioning of international think tanks, charities and organisations, recently under attack under the BJP government.