Blowing the bugle for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress on Sunday launched a fierce attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and resolved to promote ordinary party workers, as it sought to woo the youth and farmers at its 84th plenary session.
The Congress charge was led by party chief Rahul Gandhi, who mounted a blistering assault on Modi, accusing him of symbolising crony capitalism and saying the country's poor continue to live in "Modi maya" (illusory world) of the promised 'achche din' (good days).
Targeting the BJP and RSS, Gandhi recalled the two warring sides of the epic Mahabharat, saying while the saffron outfits were like the Kauravas, who fought for power, the Congress, as Pandavas did, battled for truth.
"If you are poor, your only choice is to become a farmer, labourer. You are destined to live in 'Modi's maya' - an imaginary world of 'acche din' (good days), Swachh Bharat, Rs 15 lakh in your bank account," he said.
"Like the Kauravas, the BJP and RSS fight for power. Like the Pandavas, the Congress fights for truth. Like Kauravs, BJP is designed to fight for power, but like the Pandavas Congress is designed to fight for the truth," he said.
In his almost hour-long valedictory speech at the three-day conclave, Gandhi sought to infuse fresh energy into Congress workers and the youth, saying they were the ones who would bring the party back to power.
In a bid to boost the morale of ordinary Congress workers and to attract youth to the party, Gandhi said he would break the twin walls between party leaders and workers and between the political system and young people.
Gandhi said he had emptied the stage for the youth to occupy, pointing to the huge dais which only had a podium for speakers and no seating arrangement.
The Congress had on Sunday talked of forging workable alliances with like-minded parties as part of efforts to get battle-ready for polls, with Gandhi asserting that the country was "fatigued" and only his party could show the way forward.
To woo farmers, the party also said that if voted to power, it would come out with a loan-waiver scheme for small and marginal agriculturists similar to that announced by UPA in 2009.
Assailing the prime minister over the PNB fraud, Gandhi said, "Nirav Modi who carried out India's biggest theft has the same name as our prime minister. It is an interesting fact. The most corrupt man in cricket also shares the same name as our prime minister. So, what does Modi actually mean? What does Modi actually mean?"
"The name Modi symbolises the collusion between India's biggest crony capitalists and the prime minister of India. Modi (the prime minister) gives Modi Rs 30,000 crore of your money. And in turn, Modi gives Modi money for marketing and winning the election," he said.
Gandhi said there was a need to change the organisation as workers have energy and strength to change the country, but there is a wall between them and leaders.
"My first job will be to break that wall...not with anger, but with love, giving respect to our senior leaders," he said, amid a thunderous applause from the gallery.
"The second wall, perhaps the bigger, we can't break until we break the first. The second wall is between the country's youth and political system," he said.
The Congress chief made a pitch for avoiding infighting in the party, at least until the Lok Sabha polls. "Fight, but after the elections, please," he said.
He said the BJP has been "losing election after election", and this has "brought about a change in Modiji's face. The suit is gone...."
Earlier, former prime minister Manmohan Singh launched an all-out attack on the Modi government, saying that while it had "messed up" the economy, it was spouting "jumla" (empty rhetoric) with pipe dreams about generating 2 crore jobs and doubling farm income.
He accused the BJP-led government of having "mismanaged" the dispute in Jammu and Kashmir.
From foreign policy and defence to economy, the former prime minister spoke on a range of issues and was accorded a standing ovation by party leaders.
The Congress accused the Modi government of destroying the economy and said growth can be achieved only if the country is rescued from "incompetent economic managers".
In its resolution on the economy, it said sustained economic growth was the path towards becoming a middle-income developed country.
Such sustained economic growth can be achieved only if the country can be rescued from the hands of incompetent economic managers and entrusted to those who have for many years nurtured the economy and guided it on the path of all-round economic development," the resolution said.
We have heard the clamour for change. It is now time for a change, it said.
Moving the resolution, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, we have done it before and we will do it again.