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Cong. for `awareness' movement

By Javed M. Ansari

Shimla July 9. The Shimla `sankalp' (resolution), adopted at the end of the Congress' three-day Vichar Manthan Shivir (brainstorming session) here today, was a virtual blueprint for the party's election manifesto.

Calling upon the party rank and file to launch a "Jan Jagran Abhiyan (people's awareness movement)" across the country to expose the failures of the NDA Government, it promised to expose the Government on issues of national security, defence and economic growth.

The "sankalp" sought to reinforce the Congress' pro-poor image by announcing a series of measures for the underprivileged and deprived sections of society. Presented by the AICC secretary, Selja, it promised a dialogue with the private sector and industry on extending reservation to the OBCs, Dalits and Adivasis in a bid to keep them within the party fold.

For farmers, it offered the assurance of reliable power, cheaper credit, better seeds and assured irrigation at remunerative prices. Asserting that panchayats and nagarpalikas would be granted more powers to make them vibrant institutions of self-government, it promised the enactment of a national rural employment guarantee by law and making employment growth for educated youth the overriding objective of all economic policies.

Seeking the Congress' rejuvenation and resumption of its historical role as the "natural party of governance", it underlined the resolve to ideologically, politically and organisationally meet the challenge posed by the RSS-BJP-VHP combine and defeat the NDA Government.

Re-emphasising the Congress' commitment to fight religious fundamentalism of all kinds, the resolution urged partymen to "combat in as determined a manner as possible the evil and cynical attempts being made by the BJP, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal to distort and destroy the liberal and tolerant essence of Hinduism".

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