On the first day of the Congress conclave in Burari on the outskirts of Delhi, Sonia Gandhi’s address was an unequivocal support for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meant to be heard both within the party and outside.
Singh has been under attack from the Opposition over the scams swirling around his government, including the 2G spectrum scam that led to A Raja’s ouster as telecom minister.
"He is the embodiment of sobriety, dignity and integrity,” Sonia said in her opening speech of the plenary session on Sunday. “The BJP’s personal attack on him is downright despicable. On your behalf, I want to compliment him for his wise leadership, for remaining calm amidst the storm and for his unwavering devotion to the progress and prosperity of the nation. The party stands solidly with him.”
She backed the claim by ensuring the party counter-attacked the BJP-RSS for their divisive and communal agenda.
The Congress also contrasted its action against corruption with the inaction of the main Opposition, Left and other parties in the states. If Pranab Mukherjee accused the BJP of subverting parliamentary democracy by stalling the House over a JPC probe into the 2G scam, Digvijaya Singh alleged the BJP-RSS’s hatred towards Muslims was akin to that of Nazis towards the Jews.
Sonia’s endorsement has given Singh a fresh boost to tackle the mess his government finds itself in following the 2G and Commonwealth scams.
This includes fighting off the Opposition challenge in Parliament and outside, and rejigging his council of ministers.
A week ago, Sonia had backed Singh at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting. If at that time she did it before her MPs, this time it was in front of over 10,000 delegates, including union ministers, MPs, legislators and party workers, who are now expected to fan out across the country with the message that the party is behind the Prime Minister.
Party leaders maintain this is essential in the backdrop of allegations by the Opposition that there is a lack of direction in the government in the wake of the scams, and the stalemate over the JPC. There was even a whisper campaign that Singh has been left to fend for himself, that all was not well between the two leaders.