Be united, drop egos, Sonia tells Congress leaders

Jaipur: With nine states going to polls this year and a direct fight with the Bharatiya Janata Party in five of them, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Friday asked party workers to be united and give up personal ambitions and egos.

"In states where we are out of power especially, we should be coming together, setting aside personal ambitions and egos and working cohesively so that the party triumphs," Gandhi told party leaders while addressing the 'chitan shivir', the party's strategy session, here.

"Why do we forget the simple truth that in the party's victory, lies the victory of each one of us," she said adding: "Unity has to come from within."

Gandhi said the party squandered many opportunities because it could not function as a disciplined and united team.

Stressing on building leadership at all levels, she said the party should not be afraid to move forward and take up issues and programmes which highlight the concerns and aspirations of the people.

Performance rather than patronage should be the ladder for rising in the party, said the Congress chief.

Congress' traditional support bases eroding

Sonia Gandhi Friday expressed concern that "competitors" were making inroads into the party's traditional support bases.

"The Congress is facing increased competition and inroads have been made into its traditional support bases," Gandhi said while addressing the opening of the party's 'Chintan Shivir' brainstoriming session leaders here.

"There are some states where we have been out of power for too long... Although I believe that being in power is not the sole purpose of political activity, this does have an adverse impact on our morale and organsational ability," she said.

The Congress chief advised party workers to respect alliances made with other parties, but ensure, at the same time, that the party's rejuvenation is not compromised.

Praising the work done by the Manmohan Singh government at the centre, she said the party has not been able to translate this into political support in some states.

Atrocities on women a blot

Atrocities on women are a blot on India's collective conscience, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi told party workers at a strategy meet Friday.

Her remarks came in the wake of the countrywide protests over the brutal torture and gangrape of a woman in Delhi last month.

"Atrocities on women, both in urban and rural India are a blot on our collective conscience and a matter of shame," Gandhi said while addressing the 'Chitan Shivir'.

The issues behind urban street protests last year, such as corruption and safety of women, which shook the government, must be proactively taken up, she said.

"We see various protest movements across the country, relating to land, forest, water and livelihood, tribal and gender issues. Our party must proactively take up these causes," said Gandhi.

She exhorted party leaders to understand the new India, keeping in mind the flash mobs that sprang up in the national capital on the gang-rape issue and caught the government unawares.

"We have to recognise the new changing India, an India increasingly peopled by a younger, more aspirational, more impatient, more demanding and a better-educated generation," she said.

"Our youth is getting more assertive, it wants its voice to be heard," she said.

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