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The 84th plenary two-day meet of the Congress began on Saturday with a full-on attack on BJP by the Congress president Rahul Gandhi who accused it of spreading anger and dividing the country.

This is Rahul Gandhi’s first plenary since he took over the reins of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi on December 16, 2017.

On the day the Congress session began, Rahul Gandhi changed his handle from @OfficeofRG to @RahulGandhi, bringing in a more personal touch.

Addressing the meet, the Congress president said the BJP’s “emphasis on divisive politics” has led its focus away from key issues like unemployment and farmers’ distress, adding that the Congress is the only party that can take the country forward, bringing along with it each and every citizen regardless of caste or creed.

“The country is tired, it’s looking for a way, and I say from my heart that only the Congress can show India the way. The difference between the Congress and the Opposition (BJP), the big difference, is they use anger, we use love and regard for our fellow humans,” said Rahul.

“This country is everyone’s – every faith, every caste, every man, and Congress will work for that,” said Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi hailed the old guard as he opened the session, but said the way forward was in taking the youth along. “The representatives of our party have fought hard to keep our ideology alive. The senior leaders of the Congress will guide the party youth and take us forward,” said Gandhi.

We are talking about change but not without forgetting history, he said, adding Congress cannot go ahead without the youth. The job is to bring together seniors and the youth and move ahead.

“This plenary’s goal is to show the country and the Congress the way. The people of this country, they see Modi and see no way forward. They can’t understand where they will get employment from, when farmers will get the right price (for their crop),” he said, highlighting two issues he’s been targeting the Centre on for a while now.

Instead of focussing on development and trying to alleviate the distress of farmers, the BJP, said Rahul, is dividing people.

“Anger is being spread in the country, the country is being divided, people are being made to fight each other. Our job is to join people, bring them together and this ‘hand’ (party symbol), this is the only one that can bring the country together and take it forward. And this hand’s strength is in all of you,” said the Congress president.

Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha said the 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, said Kharge.

Being held after a gap of seven years, the theme of the 84th plenary session of the 132-year-old Congress party will be ‘Change is Now’, said a report in The Hindustan Times.

The political resolution of the Congress talks of the need to revert to the old practice of paper ballot, saying there are misgivings on “misuse” of EVMs to “manipulate the outcome contrary to popular verdict”, said media reports.

In an acknowledgment of the reduced geographical spread of its political sway, the Congress resolved to adopt a pragmatic approach for cooperation with all like-minded parties and evolve a common workable programme to defeat the BJP-RSS in the 2019 general election.

During the session, Congress is expected to discuss and adopt two resolutions, one political and the other on jobs and poverty alleviation. Party leaders will also draft resolutions which will be adopted at the conclave over the next two days.

The two-day Congress meet would also set out a road map for reviving its fortunes and reversing its downward electoral journey.

The Congress Working Committee members will be picked by the party president on the concluding day of the meet.

Top leaders of the party, Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former party president Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief ministers, state Congress presidents and Congress legislature party leaders from all states are present at the session.

Foreign delegates from African National Congress South Africa, Awami League Bangladesh, Nepali Congress, Union Nationalist Party and Sri Lanka were also attending the meet, said media reports.

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