Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said that the current government at the Centre is seeking to extinguish the essence and idea of India and that the Congress party needs to be ready to protect it at all costs.
"We are not far from the 2019 elections. We must be ready to protect the essence and idea of India, which this government is seeking to extinguish," she said, addressing the Congress Working Committee meeting, referring to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"With an energized cadre and effective leadership we were able to defeat a sitting NDA government in Punjab, but in Manipur and Goa we failed to convert our winning numbers into forming a government. This outcome reminds us that the BJP will use their enormous resources and muscle power to steal mandates from us, just as they did in Arunachal Pradesh and earlier in Uttarakhand. We cannot let this happen again," she said, adding that the recently held assembly elections hold vital lessons for the party both in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Asserting that there was need to strengthen the party, Sonia said that the organizational elections of the party must be completed quickly and efficiently. "The ongoing organizational elections must be completed with the utmost speed and sincerity. The schedule for organizational elections has been determined and will come up before the CWC for approval," she said.
The CWC meet comes in the backdrop of the Congress seeking to unite opposition parties ahead of the presidential election.
It wants a broad coalition of opposition parties in place ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to take on the BJP. The BJP and its allies have gained in strength since the Modi government was formed in May 2014.
Referring to the upcoming presidential elections, the Congress chief said it was essential that the person to be elected to the high office should protect the Constitution.
"In a few weeks we will be electing the President and Vice President of our republic. In times such as these, it is even more essential that those who occupy this august office protect the Constitution," she said, addressing the Congress Working Committee meeting.
Gandhi said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, other colleagues and she have met the leaders of like-minded parties to find commonly acceptable candidates for these high offices.
A subgroup of representatives has been constituted to take this forward, she said.
On the likely agenda of the CWC are the declining economic condition, the current political situation in the country and the issue of cow vigilantism, among others.