With groupism and dissidence having affected the party's poll prospects recently, Congress President Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] on Wednesday asked partymen to herald a new beginning of discipline and cohesion in the general elections.
"We are often our worst enemies. Let the 2009 parliamentary elections herald a new beginning of discipline and cohesion. All of us will gain if our party comes back to power," she told party Members of Parliament at the last meeting of the Congress Party in Parliament in the 14th Lok Sabha.
"After the candidates have been announced, we must remain united and put our combined weight behind them. As I have said, party comes before self," Sonia said.
The party president asked the MPs not to be complacent where it appears that it is well placed saying the party cannot take anything for granted.
Gandhi said, "It is vital to adopt a fighting position where it may appear that we have a difficult battle. A defeatist attitude does not help. Let us remind those who held such an attitude in 2004, how wrong they were. Let us face the coming challenge with boldness, confidence and determination to win."
In her speech, she hailed the Indian diplomacy, saying it has ensured Pakistan's admission, after weeks of denial, on involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai [ Images ] attacks. She also referred to the successful conclusion of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Maintaining that the Congress enjoyed widespread support and goodwill across the country, Gandhi said, "It is for us - and us alone - to translate this into electoral advantage", adding, "Let us give the coming battle our all".
"Each and every one of us has a great responsibility to discharge in the election campaign over the next few weeks," she said, adding the recently held convention of the District and Block Congress Committee presidents infused the leadership at various levels with new enthusiasm and hope.
Emphasising on the need to propagate party's achievements extensively, Gandhi said, "We must propagate our achievements extensively right to the remotest parts of the country. We must aggressively counter the negative propaganda of our political opponents."
Referring to the 2004 elections, she said the Congress came to power then against considerable odds and had a full term in office in spite of widespread doubts.
Recalling the last five years in office, Gandhi said this had been satisfying and rewarding but by no means easy. She also referred to the approach of the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] in the Parliament, terrorist attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere, natural calamities, burden of galloping international oil prices and global recession.
"But we have faced all this successfully. We have achieved record economic growth rates. We have substantially reduced inflation. We have had unprecedented increases in public expenditures in crucial areas like agriculture, rural development, education and health," Gandhi said.