AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
NEW DELHI: India’s ruling Congress party began three days of soul-searching today as it goes through its roughest political patch in the six years since it was returned to power.
The party’s plenary session comes as authorities probe what could be India’s biggest corruption case — a mobile phone licensing scandal which cost the nation 40 billion dollars in lost revenue. Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, India’s most powerful politician, is addressing the meeting tomorrow, laying out her electoral vision for the party, which is marking the 125th year since its foundation.
Gandhi, who has held the Congress top job for the longest time in the party’s history, was thrust into the limelight after her husband, former premier Rajiv Gandhi, was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991.
Central to the meeting, being held in New Delhi and attended by around 1,750 party activists, is expected to be a resolution declaring “zero tolerance” on corruption. “It is a painful fact that corruption seems to be widespread and I feel strongly it is our responsibility as well as that of each and every political party to together, seriously, devise a way to curb this growing menace,” Gandhi said this month.
Another resolution is expected to focus on steps to strengthen the party nationwide following its humiliating electoral drubbing in the eastern state of Bihar. The plenary session comes amid a row involving Rahul Gandhi — widely seen as an Indian prime minister-in-waiting — who said he believes Hindu extremists may pose a greater threat to India than Islamist militants, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.