At a huge weekend rally, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi and heir apparent Rahul Gandhi finally put their full might behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's push for economic reforms, in what was widely seen as the party's new election strategy.
The Congress party leaders addressed a crowd of hundreds of thousands of supporters on Sunday, attempting to reclaim lost political ground after being battered by a series of corruption scandals, the Associated Press reported.
The rally comes as Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat head to the polls, and as the party begins preparations for national elections to be held in 2014.
According to the Times of India, both Sonia and Rahul delivered a "ringing endorsement" of the PM's reform policies in their speeches, suggesting that the party has realized that its former populist stance has been damaged by the anti-corruption campaign led by activist Arvind Kejriwal. (Previously, the Congress attempted to own the "aam admi" or "common man" slogan, but Kejriwal has co-opted that territory with his attacks on the alleged cosy relationship between Congress leaders and business tycoons).
In his speech, Rahul hit out at the BJP and the Left for criticizing FDI in retail, saying the claim that it would drive small stores out of business was false, the Times of India said. "The truth is that food processing will help farmers," the paper quoted the Congress Party general secretary as saying.
"With Sonia also voicing support, Congress may have fully shed its squeamishness over unabashedly pursuing the growth mantra," the paper suggested.