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''Congress is only pan-Indian party'': Sonia Gandhi

 ''Congress is only pan-Indian party'': Sonia GandhiJaipur, Jan. 18 : Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday said the ruling party at the Centre is the only pan-India party with a presence in all cities and villages.

"We are the only pan-Indian party, the only political party with a visible and vibrant position in every village, in every ''basti'', in every ''mohalla'' of this country. We have a record of accomplishments. We appeal to all sections of society. We articulate and champion the concerns of all, but especially of the weaker sections, Dalits, adivasis, minorities and women," said Gandhi, while addressing the Congress Party''s ''Chintan Shivir'' at Jaipur today.

Asserting that the Congress has always given the highest priority to the interests and concerns of the farmers and agricultural labours, Gandhi said: " Inclusiveness for us is not a political ploy only to win elections or to be in government, inclusion is anchored in our conviction. It is not the outcome of any compulsion as it may be for our political opponents."

"We are the only party, which believes that development and economic growth on one hand and social harmony and social justice on the other are the two sides of the same coin," she added.

Gandhi pointed out that the Congress Party should look at its strengths and weaknesses.

"But while we continue to be the nation''s pre-eminent political party, we must admit that we now face increased competition and inroads have been made into our traditional support base," she said.

Gandhi, who was addressing the Congress top brass in presence of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, said that there was a need for the party to work in cohesion in states where it has been out of office for too long.

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

"In states in which we are in alliance, we have to strike a fine balance between respecting these alliances and ensuring that the party rejuvenation is not compromised," she added.

Gandhi also lauded Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh-led UPA II Government''s revolutionary programmes and historic legislations

"The Congress-led UPA Government under Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singhji''s leadership has introduced truly revolutionary programmes and enacted historic legislations flowing from our manifestos. Economic growth over the past decade has been impressive and this has had a major impact on reducing poverty. But our fight against poverty is a continuous one," she said.

The Congress top brass, which is meeting here during the two day ''Chintan Shivir'' is expected to formulate its strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The ruling party at the Centre will also discuss the current political, socio-economic and global challenges. (ANI)