Congress President Rahul Gandhi delivered a short address and inaugurated the second day of the party's plenary session today at the Constitution Club in New Delhi, his first since he took over the reins of the grand old party last December.
Gandhi said that this is the only symbol (Congress party symbol) that can unite the nation and take it forward. He said, "They (BJP) use anger, we use love but one thing that I want to say is that this country belongs to everyone and whatever Congress will do will be for the benefit for all."
The meet is being attended by Congress chief ministers, state Congress presidents and Congress legislature party leaders from all states. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former party president Sonia Gandhi are also present.
Yesterday, as Chandrababu Naidu’s no-confidence motion and Arvind Kejriwal’s abject apology trended on the news circuits, the Indian National Congress began the pre-plenary session meet, primarily to set the party’s agenda for 2019, as also to steer its internal structural reforms.
Gandhi will present the Congress vision document and the political roadmap for the party. The document will act as a "guiding light" to help party workers upstage the BJP from power at the Centre in 2019 and in some key states where elections are slated later this year.
Here are the latest updates:
6:00 pm -
Message on behalf of the President of the State of Palestine to Congress President Rahul Gandhi wishing him and the party well, while appreciating the role of the Congress and past leaders of the Congress for their support of the Palestinian cause. #CongressPlenary #ChangeIsNow pic.twitter.com/l28KeulI1M— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
5:30 pm - In a message to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina recalls the extraordinary support extended to Bangladesh by former PM Indira Gandhi and sent her best wishes for the 84th Plenary Session of the Congress.
5:10 pm -
The Communist Party of China recalls the positive contributions made by the Congress towards the development of China-India relations and has extended its best wishes to Congress President Rahul Gandhi. #CongressPlenary #ChangeIsNow pic.twitter.com/mpjrtrw2F6— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
5:05 pm - President of The African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, remembers the shared legacy of India and South Africa and extends his best wishes to the Indian National Congress in a message to the Plenary session.
5:00 pm - A three-member delegation of the Bangladesh Awami League today met the Congress leadership and discussed a wide range of issues, including the ongoing cooperation between the two countries.
4:30 pm - "I would like to ask Modi government, doesn't the market distort when Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya and Jatin Mehta flee out of the country and does it only distort when farmers ask for Minimum Support Price?"
4:15 pm - "Modi Ji's government scrapped farmers' Swaminathan Committee and replaced it with 'Jumlanathan Committee', says Randeep Surjewala.
4:10 pm - This is necessary as there are misgivings on "misuse" of EVMs to "manipulate the outcome contrary to popular verdict", the party said during its 84th plenary session.
4:00 pm - The Congress today urged that the Election Commission revert to the old practice of paper ballots in future elections instead of electronic voting machines.
3:30 pm -
3:30 pm - "It is the beginning of a new chapter, the challenges we are facing are not usual ones. We need to make an India free of corruption and vendetta, under President Rahul Gandhi, let us pledge that we will make all efforts to do this."
3:25 pm - "We are exposing the fraud and corruption by PM Modi and the people with him, using proof. In the last four years, this arrogant government has left no stone unturned to destroy the Congress. But, Congress has never cowered down and it will never cower down."
3:20 pm - "Forty years ago, Indira Ji's stunning victory in Chikmagalur turned around Indian politics, once again our party must give a similar performance."
3:15 pm -
Today a new chapter of the Congress party has begun. Every Congress member must dedicate their life to take this nation to great heights: UPA Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi during the address to the #CongressPlenary. #ChangeIsNow 2/2 pic.twitter.com/gvJy3Npv06— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
3:15 pm - "Congress' victory will be the nation's victory, it will be the victory for each one of us. Congress is not a political term, it is a movement," says Sonia Gandhi.
3:10 pm - Sonia Gandhi addresses leaders at the Congress plenary session.
12:30 pm - Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot speaks at the plenary.
To those who challenge us, I would say... as of now we have won by-polls under leadership of Rahul Gandhi, soon you'll see us winning states and in 2019 Congress will win the elections: Sachin Pilot at #CongressPlenarySession pic.twitter.com/Mlya50e4ZN— ANI (@ANI) March 17, 2018
12:28 pm - The party's draft political resolution draft is presented. [READ DETAILED REPORT HERE]
There are apprehension among political parties & people over misuse of EVMs to manipulate outcome contrary to popular verdict. To ensure credibility of electoral process EC should revert to old practice of paper ballots like most major democracies: Congress Political Resolution— ANI (@ANI) March 17, 2018
12:25 pm - With your (party members and workers) blessings and cooperation we will once again win in Karnataka, your help is needed, the way BJP and RSS workers go door-to-door, the same way you also help us in Karnataka: Kharge
12:20 pm - Kharge adds, "Congress party led India to independence and helped establish democracy. It was democracy which brought PM Modi to power but, ironically, his government itself has now become a threat to democracy."
12:15 pm - "Congress party belongs to everyone who lives in this nation. With the visionary leadership of Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress set up large-scale industries, irrigation projects and pushed the economy forward."
12:10 pm - Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress reached out to people across the country, inspired them to rise above all barriers, and mobilized them to form the world's biggest movement for independence: Mallikarjun Kharge
12:00 pm - Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge delivers the political resolution of the party at the plenary. He says, "Teemir ko roshni kehte huye acha nahi lagta, mujhe gham ko khushi kehte huye acha nahi lagta... lahu insaniyat ko jo din-raat peete hain RSS-BJP ke log unko insaan kehte huye mujhe acha nahi lagta" [I don't like to call darkness light, I don't like to term sadness as joy, I don't want to call those people (RSS-BJP) who draw blood of humanity as human beings]
10:52 am - Rahul Gandhi concludes his brief address. He will next speak at the conclusion of the plenary tomorrow at 4:30 pm.
10:50 am - Only the Congress party can lead the country in that new direction, says Rahul Gandhi.
The symbol of the hand is the symbol of the Congress party. This is the symbol that holds the country together, shows us the way, and will take India forward: Congress President Rahul Gandhi #CongressPlenary #ChangeIsNow pic.twitter.com/z5evCOIPhh— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
10:48 am - They (BJP) use anger, we use love but one thing that I want to say is that this country belongs to everyone and whatever Congress will do will be for the benefit for all: Rahul Gandhi
10:47 am - I thank all senior Congress members present here today. They have fought for the ideals of the party to keep our dreams alive: Rahul Gandhi
10:46 am - Says Rahul Gandhi, "Today, the nation is being divided on small issues, our identities are being threatened."
10:46 am - He remarks on the current political climate in the country and says it is time for a new direction, a new vision. He brings up the farmers crisis and the unemployment problem.
The country is tired of what is happening under the current Govt. Only the Congress party can show the way and heal divisions in the nation: Congress President Rahul Gandhi #CongressPlenary #ChangeIsNow— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
10:45 am - Rahul Gandhi begins his speech.
10:00 am - Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have arrived at the meet. Senior leaders are already present. Sources say former chief Sonia Gandhi is likely to recede into the background. “She’ll not want to overshadow” her son in any way, even though the art of alliance making, which will either make or mar 2019 for the Congress, has been left to her.
9:30 am - The party announced that Rahul Gandhi's official Twitter handle has changed from @OfficeofRG to @RahulGandhi.
The session assumes importance as it will be the first after Gandhi's presidentship and the first to be held with a new leader in two decades.
9:00 am - The session is set to commence soon.
March 16 - Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia at the first day of the plenary session yesterday in New Delhi. READ FULL REPORT HERE
Change is in the air as the 84th Plenary Session of the Congress Party begins today in New Delhi. As this historic occasion unfolds with new ideas that’ll shape the future of our country, we promise to bring you all the updates live on this space. Stay tuned. #ChangeIsNow pic.twitter.com/3qnfWRv9GO— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2018
At the three-day brainstorming plenary session (March 16-19), the Congress party will pass four resolutions -- one each on the political and economic fronts, another on foreign policy and the fourth on agriculture and unemployment. Its primary focus will, however, be to devise strategies to tackle the BJP ahead of the 2019 elections and to chalk out a new vision for the grand old party.
(With inputs from Express News Service and agencies)