Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Sunday gave a clear warning to the leaders of the party, asking them not to make "loose remarks" and to toe the party line while making comments on key issues in public.
Addressing party leaders at the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, he asked them to abstain from making "irrelevant" statements in public that could derail the political discourse and harm the party's prospects.
Sources said even UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi made a reference to such utterances during her brief address, giving a clear signal to the "loose cannons" in the party to fall in line.
AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation Ashok Gehlot also emphasised that the leaders and workers of the party should maintain discipline and not speak out of turn.
"Congress president Rahul Gandhi clearly pointed out and gave a friendly advice to the partymen that in view of the larger goal -- the 2019 (Lok Sabha) election -- they should maintain discipline in both their language and conduct," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters.
"There is freedom of expression, but as far as toeing the party line is concerned, it is expected of the Congress workers and the entire leadership that they will maintain the balance of decorum and dignity of language," he added.
Mr Surjewala said the Congress chief pointed out that aspirations were being crushed in the country, voices subjugated, hopes were lying shattered and the discourse was being made poisonous by way of a concerted conspiracy by the ruling BJP.
"In that context, he pointed out and told the Congress leaders to not lose sight of the goal and people's issues, their pains and sufferings. Let us not be guided by a failed prime minister and a failed (Narendra) Modi government, which has nothing to offer, except for the poisonous, venomous, divide and rule policy.
"That is why he said gravitas of language and conduct is expected by the people of this country of Congress leaders and they should adhere to it," he added.
Mr Surjewala said Mr Gehlot told the gathering that discipline started with the leader and percolated down to the workers and one could expect it from the workers only when the leaders showed the path.
Certain comments of Congress leaders have embarrassed the party in the past and harmed its interests at the hustings.
These include Mani Shankar Aiyar's "chai-walla" and "neech aadmi" barbs at Prime Minister Modi.
The party had also distanced itself from Shashi Tharoor's recent "Hindu Pakistan" remark.
Mr Surjewala said the Congress was fighting the fascist forces of subjugation and suppression, who were denigrating democracy, adding that it was like a second freedom struggle to protect the foundational values of India.
"Congress leaders, keeping in mind the larger goal of 2019, will maintain the dignity of their language and conduct," he quoted Rahul Gandhi as saying at the meet.