Surajkund (Haryana): Asking partymen to gear up for the next Lok Sabha polls, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused its opponents of attempting to grab power at any cost and called for an aggressive response to their "false propaganda".

Noting that about 18 months were left for the next Parliamentary polls, Gandhi told a "dialogue meeting" of top party leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here that the party should strive hard to meet the challenge.

Gandhi, who is also the UPA Chairperson, said that though "we are facing very difficult challenges", it is a fact that "we have a record of excellent achievements in the past eight years and we are proud of our commitment to the interest of the common man. This commitment is our dharma."

She said that the party-led government has changed the face of India through "unparalleled programmes and laws".

"Our detractors and the opposition are bent upon spreading disinformation on political, moral and policy issues," she said.

"We have to respond aggressively to their false propaganda. We know that in reality their intention is to grab power at any cost, notwithstanding the fact that their greed could weaken democracy, equality, sovereignty and secular values," she said.

Gandhi was addressing the day-long meeting of Congress top brass, including Cabinet ministers, Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Congress Working Committee (CWC) members and permanent invitees to CWC.

The exercise, also being attended by Rahul Gandhi, is the first of its kind with the Congress chief telling the top party brass that the interaction between the party and the government should not be limited to such meetings.

Gandhi hailed the "able" leadership of the Prime Minister to the government which, she said, has helped the countrystave off to a large extent the effects of the global economic slowdown for the past few years when countries much more developed than India are in crisis.

"But we cannot be fully insulated from the global economic crisis," she said, conceding that the government had to take certain decisions due to the crisis because of which the common man faced difficulties.

"The challenge before us is to tell the people about the reasons which forced us to take the decisions," Gandhi said in an obvious reference to the hike in prices of petroleum products as also LPG.

At the outset, she said the forum of the dialogue meeting is for strengthening the interaction between the government and the party at a time when those who are sent to the government have to fulfil their responsibilities, while those in the party feel that it should run as per the ideology of the organisation.

Noting that those in the government feel that party understood the compulsions of the government, she said perhaps both the points-of-view are correct.

She said there had been realisation of greater interaction between the government and the party and that it should not be restricted to major policy decisions.

Gandhi said that some colleagues in the party had reservations over certain decisions of the government as also their timings. Many in the party were dissatisfied over the way ministers were not giving due attention to their suggestions and concerns, she said.

The Congress president wanted the ministers to listen to party workers and give due attention to their concerns. The ministers should interact with partymen while visiting states and this is all the more necessary in states ruled by the opposition parties, she said.

Sonia asks ministers to implement 2009 manifesto

"Those of you who are in the government should get down to implementing the work left from the promises made in the 2009 manifesto," Gandhi said in her opening remarks at the party's review cum strategy meeting being held in this Haryana town bordering the national capital.

Seeking opinion of the leaders on how to give more depth to the government's welfare measures, she also asked the ministers to work more with party leaders so a balance is achieved in the implementation of these programmes.

"Sometimes the party leaders are dissatisfied as the ministers do not pay attention to their concerns and suggestions," Gandhi said. "There should be a continuous dialogue between the party leaders and those in the government."

She asked ministers to spend more time at party offices and at party events whenever they travelled to a state, especially in the opposition ruled states. "We have around 18 months left for the next Lok Sabha election. We must get ready to face the challenge," Gandhi said.

The one-day meeting of the party is being attended by about 70 people, including ministers and members of the Congress Working Committee. Billed as an informal Samvad Baithak (brainstorming session), the meeting will also discuss how to create better synergy between the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government, particularly in the months ahead of the 2014 general elections.

(JPN/Agencies)

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