The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress snaps heels to salute Rajiv, Sonia

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Back in power at the Centre after eight long years, the Congress will seek to draw inspiration from Rajiv Gandhi and highlight party chief Sonia Gandhi’s refusal to accept the Prime Minister’s post at Saturday’s AICC session in the capital.

Projected initially as a “victory session”, the meet of the highest party body, being held for the first time since the May general elections, will be dedicated to Rajiv Gandhi’s memory.

The customary working committee meeting tomorrow that precedes the session coincides with the former Prime Minister’s 60th birth anniversary.

The Congress today officially dedicated the extended working committee meet to the late leader’s memory. The meeting, where various resolutions for the Saturday session will be finalised, will come at the end of a series of functions organised through the day to mark the occasion.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will unveil an imposing statue of the late leader near the Parliament complex. The Congress government in Delhi has organised a function at Veer Bhumi, Rajiv Gandhi’s samadhi.

The leadership has decided to introduce two special resolutions at the Saturday session. One will draw inspiration from Rajiv Gandhi and recount his role as a leader who laid the foundation of a modern India during his five-year tenure as Prime Minister. The other will laud Sonia’s leadership in bringing the party back to power and her “unprecedented” refusal to become Prime Minister.

The two together, said general secretary Ambika Soni, would inspire the cadre to re-establish the party’s pre-eminence.

The two special resolutions have taken a toll on the three conventional resolutions — on political, economic and international affairs — that an AICC session usually adopts. The three resolutions will be clubbed, Soni said. Rajiv Gandhi’s leadership would also come alive in the fourth resolution that panchayati raj minister Mani Shankar Aiyar would present on the work of the ministry he heads.

The Prime Minister, too, would have pride of place in the scheme of things drawn up for the daylong session. After the Congress president’s customary address and introduction of the four resolutions, Singh will address the session outlining the new government’s “aam admi (common man) agenda” and also give a progress report on results achieved in the first three months.

“Before the session discusses the four resolutions, the members will have the advantage of government perspectives on issues of governance from the Prime Minister’s address,” Soni said.

Sonia’s son and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi would be attending an AICC session for the first time in his capacity as a member of Parliament, Soni said, though she was tight-lipped on whether he would take part in the discussions on the resolutions. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been invited to attend in her capacity as an “inspiring and prominent member of the party”, Soni said.

Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao will not attend the session because of ill health. Soni said Sonia had personally written to Rao inviting him, but he replied stating his inability to attend.

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