The embattled Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi, sought to drum up support for the contentious opening up of the country's vast retail sector to big foreign chains at a mass rally on Sunday, saying supermarkets would help farmers and consumers battling high inflation.
Shiv Sena today slammed Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for his comments that though Congress had backed the BJP-led NDA government during the Kargil war, the Opposition was not supporting FDI in retail.
Buffeted by charges of corruption against the UPA government, the Congress on Sunday put up a massive show of strength at the Ramlila ground in Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi hitting asserting that the recent slew of economic reforms will benefit the country and create more jobs. However, the Opposition leaders weren't too impressed with Congress' show of strength or claims.
- (On support during Presidential polls)That was a time of crisis. No party did favor to anyone. It was our duty
- Now that they are supporting foreigners we are not with them.
- Rahul Gandhi should have some maturity. What does he want, shall we support him for bringing Wal-Mart?
Rahul Gandhi made a rare appearance on the same stage as Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the PM , and as the day's first speaker, launched his party's mission 2014. Mr Gandhi is expected to formally take over any day now as the number 2 in the Congress and play the "bigger role" that he has promised to.
A combative Sonia Gandhi brought up the rear of the Congress's mega three-speech rally at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan today, ripping into the BJP and emphatically defending the government her party leads and the tough reforms measure it has been forced to take recently.
Prakash Karat, General Secretary, CPI(M): We challenge government to get FDI passed in Parliament
Senior BJP leader Aun Jaitley: "Congress rally is anti-people...We will oppose wrong policies of the government."
- They rationalize hike in diesel and LPG prices
- This rally was intended to rationalize each of those steps
- They by passed the issue of corruption
- The coal block allocation, 2G none of it was taken up in their speeches
- What is happening to several leaders facing serious charges
- The party is in gross default
- They just by pass all those issues
- The Lokpal they wanted was weak
- We wanted it in Rajya Sabha and we got majority also but they got the house adjourned
- As far as FDI in retail is concerned
- It will reduce manufacturing jobs
- Foreign retailers source from outside and not domestically
- Middle man elimination benefit goes to retailers in this case
- The history has witnessed that wherever FDI hs been brought the farmers are heavily subsidized
- Why was that done?
- It was done because the farmers were not benefited by this
- This rally is just being organized to advocate the anti people policy of this Govt
- Though any political event is their right
- But what the rally they did today
- It is anti people rally
- Being it diesel price hike, common man and farmer is being burdened and this rally justifies that
- There is no solution to corruption given by them
- I wont be wrong in saying that this is the most corrupt Govt
- The allegation on congress itself
- They by pass these things
- As far as FDI is concerned
- In the manufacturing sectors jobs will reduce
- Retail jobs will be displaced
- On what basis are you saying that farmer will be benefited
- The public related issues
- It is the anti people's policy
- On the security of India, no one takes it as seriously as we do (on kargil)
- But on the issue of corruption, and wrong policies we have to oppose them
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today made a strong pitch to "change the political system" to fight corruption and benefit the aam aadmi. Till this was done, India "will not change", he said.
I know that inflation has it the common man
The problem is that the oil prices have quadrupled in in international markets - we import 80% of our requirements.
We have no increased the prices of food grains under the Public Distribution System.
We are also planning on a bill that will guarantee food security.
I ask those who oppose us - has there ever been a government that has balanced rural and urban development?
The Congress' vision is clear and our intent is clear. We must take the country forward.
Seeing you gather here in such large numbers inspires me and gives me renewed vigour
Our party has provided inspirational leadership
We have been secular, we recognize the diversity of India. We are peerless in this matter
We are confident we'll do well in the upcoming polls.
Some people are still unable to accept the mandate the Congress party received - in 2002 and 2009.
The Opposition has stalled parliament repeatedly, they have run away from debate.
They are mired in corruption charges themselves that is why they are making false allegations.
They want to weaken the democratic edifice of this country , but we will not let them succeed.
They lecture us on corruption but are corrupt themselves
Jo durse ke liye gaddha khodta hai, uske liye kuan tayyar rehta hai
Corruption is a cancer that afflicts the poor. It will be fought through law
We are committed to fighting corruption. The parliament is debating the Lokpal Bill.
It is our responsibility to fight corruption but we must not create a situation where honest officers are afraid of taking decisions.
It is our dream to work towards an strong and prosperous nation and we will not spare any effort to achieve that
We need many times to adopt the more difficult path rather than take the easy way out because that may be beneficial for the country's future.
(PM defends FDI) This decision is for the betterment of the people. We want our farmers to be happy and prosperous
- I want to inform you how we are going to help change our nation & also the progress of our nation
- People are plagued by unemployment.
- We took some decisions recently and some people are trying to mislead the public
- No nation can address its biggest challenges without economic development.
- We have made efforts to create an investor-friendly environment and have been successful to a large extent
- We have set new records in economic growth; we laid special emphasis on infrastructure
- We are going create better roads
- The Economic development of the country needs to reach the poor & common people
- We believe that economic development should enable everyone to get all the basic amenities
The biggest problem with India today is our political system.
The people who run the system are busy mud-slinging at one aother.
No one is raising the fundamental questions The voice of the aam admi is not reaching political echelons.
Till the common man - youth from underprivileged backgrounds - come into politics, change cannot happen
Doors have to open - even within the Congress.
We have to show the way, others can't; they can just oppose.
Who will change the political system? The Congress will.
The world's largest employment programme - MNREGA - has benefitted millions The Opposition talks of corruption but we introduced the RTI Act, that has empowered the Aam Admi to ask questions and demand answers The Opposition has been opposing without thought , without understanding our programmes.
We will soon bring the Right to Food Bill in Parliament. We want to ensure everybody has access to food. We've raised Bhatta Parsaul - the issue of land acquisition from farmers and will continue to.
We will pass the Lokpal Bill. You wait and watch. On the economic situation, PM Manmohan Singhji will speak.
Clear instructions have been read out to all attending the rally- they are only to shout slogans for the PM, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Maybe, this direction is inspired by recent fight in chattisgarh between General Secretary BK Hariprasad and ex-CM Ajit Jogi over his supporters fighting slogans.
NDTV 's Sandeep Phukan says :
Entry into media enclosure was just chaotic. The Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway station has almost roads blocked. Even former coal minister Subodh Kant Sahay got blocked.
Posters portraying Congress president Sonia Gandhi as Goddess Durga with BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Janata Party chief Subramnanian Swamy as evil will be put up at Sunday's rally. The posters, put up by Congress workers in Allahabad, also depicts activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal and yoga guru Baba Ramdev as Ravana.
Congress workers erect posters at the Ramlila ground ahead of Sunday's mega rally.
The Sunday's rally is also expected to set the agenda for the party's one-day brainstorming session at Surajkund on November 9 in which it plans to discuss current political and economic situation as well as review the implementation of programmes promised in the party manifesto.
Faced with all-round attack, the Congress is expected to launch its counter-offensive at a rally in Delhi tomorrow in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would be the star speakers.