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Text of Sonia Gandhi's speech

May 15, 2004 16:40 IST
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Following is the text of the speech of newly elected Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi at the Central Hall of Parliament:

Friends,

You have honoured me by reposing your trust and faith in me. I feel deeply humbled, I feel greatly privileged.

I stand here today, in the space once occupied by my greatest teachers -- Panditji, Indiraji and Rajivji. Their lives have guided me throughout my journey. Their courage and complete devotion to India has given me the strength to continue on their path even years after their martyrdom.

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I would like to remember them today, I would like to honour them today.

Friends, we stand here as elected members of this August House as per the will of the people of our great nation. Let us never forget that it is to them we owe our positions. Let us never slip, for even one moment. At all times, we must act in their interest, at all times we must acknowledge that it is their mandate that has given us this immense responsibility, at all times we must be conscious of the truth that we are in fact, their humble servants.

Let us not revel in our victory. Let us greet it as a welcome opportunity to effect the changes that may better the lives of our brothers and sisters all over India. Let us understand the sentiment behind this mandate. Let us each acknowledge that the people of India have chosen us to represent their aspirations not our own. The people of India have spoken.

They have once again re-affirmed what we all believed within our hearts. They have asserted that the soul of our nation is inclusive, secular and united.

They have decisively rejected the ideology of the likes of the RSS.

They have decisively rejected the destructive and self-serving policies of the BJP-NDA government.

They have decisively rejected the politics of personal attacks and negative campaigns.

Very shortly a Congress-led coalition will be in place at the Centre.
 
Even as we provide the pivot for the coalition, it will be our earnest endeavour to respect and work closely with our
allies and partners.

We will soon finalise a joint plan of action with them. This plan will outline our priorities, policies and programmes as one cohesive unit.

The commitment to provide a strong and stable government dedicated to promoting social harmony and peace unites all of us in the coalition. The commitment to provide a firm, resolute government devoted to the welfare of the kisans and khet mazdoors, of youth and women, of weaker sections of society unites us all in the coalition.

The commitment to provide a purposeful, effective government focused on accelerating employment, growth and investment unites all of us in the coalition. We have an enormous task ahead of us. The road is wrought with difficulties, the challenges are vast.

Let us not be complacent.

Our party organisation has to be infused with new energy and drive. In many states we have not performed as we should have. There is now a momentum generated by our revival -- let us not squander it. We must utilise it as a catalyst for change and progress within our own organisation.

Let us build a new future defined by hard work and resolve.

I know that you have all worked tremendously hard in the last few months.

I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to each one of you and express to you, my heartfelt gratitude.

I am glad to see a number of young men and women who have joined the House today. A special word of greeting to them and a special thought for all those who fought hard but could not make it.

We have succeeded against all odds. We have prevailed despite all predictions of disaster. It has been a team effort, a collective enterprise.

We can take legitimate pride in our accomplishment as we prepare ourselves for the task of governance in the days ahead.

On behalf of all of you, I thank the people of India from my heart.

Thank You.

 

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