A day after Rahul Gandhi's anointment as party's Vice President, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today targeted youth, women and middle class in the party's quest for widening its base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Opening the AICC session here after the two-day chintan shivir, she also made some plain speaking to her partymen saying they should not indulge in nepotism and should show unity to face the challenge of elections which are 15 months away.
She said party leaders should work for the welfare of all and not restrict themselves to their "favourites".
"I am sure if we make the right efforts with unity, there is no doubt in my mind why we will not get the mandate again," she said.
Gandhi said she was happy with the participation of the younger colleagues in the brain storming conclave and hoped that it will help the party project new leadership.
With apparently the huge middle class in her mind, she spoke of women's empowerment in the context of the gang rape of the Delhi and of the need to fight corruption in public life.
Gandhi said after the Burari session of Congress, the UPA government had stepped up its fight against corruption and has introduced various measures in Parliament including the Lokpal Bill.
She said the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, nicknamed 'aapka paisa appke haath' (your money in your hands) will benefit people by transfer of money meant for pensions and scholarships directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
The DBTS will eliminate corruption by middlemen, she said terming graft as a "deep-rooted malice" affecting all sections of the society.
Under attack over slow response to public protests in the wake of the gangrape incident in Delhi, Gandhi said people were right in demanding answers and actions in the case as safety of women was a fundamental right.
The sacrifice of the girl who was brutally raped and assaulted in a bus last month would not go in vain as it has shaken the conscience of the nation, she said in her address.
Gandhi said the young gangrape victim was "tragically the symbol of women and children who suffer similar fate" in the wake of denial of justice.
She also said the atrocities on women and children was a reflection of "shameful" social mindset which needed to be changed.
In her opening remarks, she deprecated the "shocking remarks" made by public figures in the wake of the rape incident and