Dear friends,

The Shimla Vichar Manthan Shivir that has just concluded was very successful. We debated extensively the various aspects of our party policies and the dismal performance of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. We adopted a Shimla Sankalp. It reflects our firm resolve to wage a relentless struggle against forces of communalism and fundamentalism, and to take the country forward. We once again reiterate our commitment to “Congress Ka Haath, Garib Ke Saath”.

The Shimla Sankalp will be implemented fully, in letter and spirit. The Sankalp is our political charter, it is yet another milestone in our continued struggle against all forces of communalism and fundamentalism, against BJP, the RSS, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal that seek to destroy social harmony and against the BJP-led NDA government that has proved to be such a colossal and massive failure.

Our party will soon launch and sustain a Jan Jagaran Abhiyan across the country to expose the BJP-led NDA government’s comprehensive and glaring failures on security, defence, communal harmony, economic growth, social welfare, good governance, foreign policy and probity and transparency in public life.

We formulated our stance on coalitions at Pachmarhi and elaborated upon it in Bangalore two years ago. The political resolution that was adopted at that AICC Plenary said : “Taking into the account the present political scenario, the Congress would be prepared to enter into appropriate electoral or coalition arrangements with secular parties on the basis of mutual understanding but always without compromising its basic ideology. The prevailing situation in the country makes it incumbent on all secular forces to intensify their efforts to evolve a strategy for combating communalism and religious fundamentalism and for ensuring the defeat of the BJP and its allies.”

On Ayodhya, our position has been clear and consistent. We believe that the Ayodhya dispute must be resolved through the courts. All parties must abide by the judicial verdict. We are not against the facilitation of a negotiated settlement among the parties to the dispute. But such a settlement if reached must have complete legal sanction and sanctity.

The Congress is unique. Our uniqueness arises from several basic features of the Congress’s history, its character, its ideology and the legacy of its leadership. I am convinced that the time is ripe for a massive renaissance of our political culture so that we build that society which combines compassion with competence, equity with excellence and integrates India’s global leadership with local transformation. Congress Ka Haath, Garib Ke Saath has to become our beacon both in substance and style. We must set the example by austerity and integrity in our public and private lives.

You know, how many challenges we have to face in the coming times. Our resolve is unshakeable, our direction is clear, our determination is strong. With this self-confidence we have to go amidst people so that, in coming times, we will win the confidence and support of all sections of the people due to our principles, policies and programmes. I thank the people of Himachal, Chief Minister, Shri Virbhadra Singh, his colleagues and Himachal Pradesh Congress president, Smt. Vidya Stokes, her colleagues, Congress workers and Congress office-bearers for the excellent arrangements made for the Shivir and for their legendary hospitality

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