Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari was the target of a veiled attack by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at the twin rallies here on Tuesday. "I want to ask the BJP: Have you taken any action against your leaders who are mired in corruption?" said the UPA chairperson, claiming that
her party had, on its part, taken "effective steps" to weed out corruption.
At rallies in the state capital and in Kangra, she also attacked Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and accused the state's BJP government of having done nothing.
On corruption, she claimed, "The way the Congress and the UPA have fought against corruption, no one has ever done before. We took action wherever we had evidence." She reminded people that it was the Congress-led central government that had passed the Right to Information Act in its pervious term. Accusing the BJP of "stalling" the lokpal legislation in the Rajya Sabha, she underlined that the UPA had passed the bill for an anti-graft ombudsman in the Lok Sabha.
Making a fervent appeal to oust the BJP government from the hill state, Sonia repeated the charge that central assistance had not been used: "Where have the thousands of crores of rupees provided by the Centre gone?" Further accusing the state BJP leaders of caring only for their kith and kin, she said no new employment opportunities had been created.
Then she went on to recall her family's connections with the state: "Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi shared a special bond with the people of Himachal Pradesh. I know the people here are not gullible, and they will take the right decision."
She reiterated that the BJP was "misleading" the public and "creating rumours" on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail: "The FDI is for the benefit of farmers; they will not be exploited. And consumers, too, will get products at cheaper rates."
Apparently mindful of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's jibe that she was mute on inflation, Sonia made it a point to mention that she was "concerned about the rising prices".
Other who spoke included state Congress president Virbhadra Singh, union commerce minister Anand Sharma, Congress Legislature Party leader Vidya Stokes and the party's national general secretary in charge of Himachal, Birender Singh.