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All institutions vs us: Rahul

Congress president poured out his anguish against institutions, likening the party's battle to the freedom struggle
Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi

Sanjay K. Jha   |   New Delhi   |   Published 01.06.19, 09:31 PM

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday underscored that the sacred principle of having a level playing field had been violated in the Lok Sabha elections by those supposed to protect democracy, saying Congress leaders should be proud that they fought not just one political party but “every single institution in this country”.

“You are probably the first people in this country’s independent history who have fought an election not against a political party but against every single institution in this country,” Rahul said at his first meeting with the newly elected MPs of the Congress.


“There is not one institution that did not fight you and try to stop you from entering the Lok Sabha. You fought every single one of those institutions and you forced your way into the Lok Sabha. And that is something you should be extremely proud of.”

The party president poured out his anguish against these institutions, without naming any, likening the party’s battle to the freedom struggle against the British when institutions served the colonial rulers.

Although many Congress leaders, and those from other Opposition parties, have criticised the role of the Election Commission during the polls and aired misgivings about electronic voting machines, Rahul spoke of institutional bias in a wider perspective.

As the BJP machinery steamrollered rivals, doubts had been expressed in many quarters whether pillars of the republic, including the media, had discharged their responsibilities in a manner beyond reproach.

At Saturday’s session, Rahul told the new Congress MPs: “You fought a very good election, obviously, because the people who won this time need to understand exactly what they fought.”

Rahul spoke of the daunting task staring at the Congress workers while thanking the senior leaders for their guidance.

“You have done a tremendous service in fighting for the Constitution and now you are fighting every single institution. There is no institution that is going to support you in this country, not one is going to support you. It is like (what happened) during the British period, when not a single institution supported the Congress party; yet we fought and won and we are going to do it again,” the party chief said.

Both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, who too attended the meeting, linked the future political battles to the survival of democracy, telling the MPs not to lose heart because of their numerical deficiency. The Congress won 52 seats in the 545-member House.

With the party ranks downcast following a second devastating defeat after the one in 2014, Sonia and Rahul tried to motivate them by referring to the enormity of the challenge and the party’s responsibility to assure the nation that the Opposition would not give up.

Sonia, who was again elected chairperson of the Congress Party in Parliament, said: “We must assure the people of India that we will fulfil the responsibility of an alert and responsible Opposition to strengthen our democracy and safeguard our Constitution.We will be at the forefront of the fight for the rights of the people, both in Parliament and on the streets.”

Sonia hailed Rahul’s role as Congress president, saying he ran a valiant campaign and demonstrated fearless leadership by taking the Modi government head-on.

Rahul reminded the party: “You have to first understand who you are. You are fighting for the Constitution of this country. That is who you are; you are fighting for the right of every single individual in this country, regardless of skin colour, religion, gender or state. And who is fighting against you? Hatred, cowardice and anger are fighting against you. Lack of confidence, lack of self-belief is fighting against you.”

Recalling those who had confronted the BJP’s dominance in the previous Lok Sabha despite the Congress having just 45 MPs, Rahul said: “I am very confident that this time our 52 members are going to fight the BJP every single inch.”

Sonia, too, congratulated the MPs over how they battled the odds.

“Each one of you has fought one of the hardest elections of our career. We were up against an election machinery with all odds stacked against us — unlimited resources, ability to manipulate public opinion and the spread of mischievous propaganda,” she said.

Expressing gratitude to the Congress workers for fighting for the ideology in the face of unprecedented hostility from the ruling party, Sonia said: “I want to thank each one of the 12.3 crore people who voted for the Congress. Your vote is a vote for safeguarding our Constitution, a vote for economic and social progress, a vote for liberty and for social justice.”

Both Sonia and Rahul acknowledged that the Congress was facing a grave crisis and stressed the need for introspection and rejuvenation while keeping a close vigil on the government to measure its performance on truth, not falsehood.

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