New Delhi: Mincing no words, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday asked partymen to stop wasting their energy on factionalism and petty issues and prepare themselves unitedly for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress chief's firm message came at the day-long meeting of the CWC that saw Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda calling for a Kamraj Plan to revive the party ahead of the coming electoral challenges.
While Gandhi defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the government from Opposition and civil society attacks on corruption charges, several state leaders attacked some Union Ministers on various grounds.
Telling partymen that unity is the need of the hour, she said the strength of the organisation would grow doubly if partymen use half the energy that they waste on factionalism and petty issues.
"This is a test for us as a Congress worker. Not to understand this will be a big mistake. It is a matter of caution, warning and challenge for all," Gandhi said.
The Congress President said she was confident that partymen could take on any challenge but "the only condition is that we do not demoralise them (party workers) in our political game."
In his speech, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the "situation may be difficult but we would be able to retrieve. We will retrieve the situation. We have done it in the past". The meeting earlier saw a larger number of party leaders, mainly the PCC chiefs and CLP leaders, flagging concerns over rising prices and corruption.
Hooda said it is time for a shake-up in the party on the lines of Kamraj Plan and the old leadership should step down to pave way for the takeover by young ones. Kamraj Plan was effected by Jawaharlal Nehru under which senior ministers had resigned from the government to make themselves available to work for the organisation.
Recalling the adage that charity should begin at home, Hooda told Gandhi that he was ready to take up any work assigned by her.
Kerala state chief of the party Ramesh Chennithala was critical of the petrol price hike. "The common man does not understand statistics", he said adding there is a need for urgent steps to bring down the prices. Chennithala also said the government should bring back the Administered Price Mechanism to help the common man.
Party spokesperson Manish Tewari, who was the last speaker at the meeting, is learnt to have said that the government needs to be seen as one that is functioning. Urging the government to bring the big ticket reforms, he said that if allies are opposing then "be prepared to change the political landscape".
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna is learnt to have said that there is an impression that the government at the Centre is weak, the sources said.
In her speech, Gandhi, however, said the report to the people brought out on the third anniversary on the UPA government was a "document of success inspite of the difficulties."
Gandhi also made a scatching attack on the opposition and civil society for levelling "baseless" allegations against the Prime Minister and the party, saying it was part of a conspiracy and told partymen to fight back.
"We will have to fight fiercely against such allegations at the party and the government levels," Gandhi said with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by her side.
Without referring to the petrol price hike, she said there have been economic challenges too that are impacting the common man. "The whole world was passing through a difficult phase and we have to face it and we are facing it".