Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday lashed out at the BJP for its “grave failures” in Gujarat, its “obstructionist tactics” in Parliament and its “hollow” stance on the India-US nuclear deal. Addressing MPs at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, she also took a swipe at the CPI-M (without naming it) on Nandigram, but kept the focus of her attack on the saffron party.
Without naming Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia criticized his government’s performance and took note of the media expose on the “BJP leadership's active involvement” in the 2002 riots. “Promises made by the BJP over the past decade or more have turned out to be hollow. Highly exaggerated, and in some cases false, claims on development are being made,” she said, adding that the Congress was committed to exposing the BJP. The people of Gujarat, she said, are looking for change.
On the nuclear deal debate in Parliament, the Congress chief said it exposed the “hollowness” of the BJP's stance. “For the fifth time, both Pranabji (Mukherjee) and the Prime Minister have reiterated that the agreement in no way impinges on our national sovereignty and that Parliament will be kept fully informed at every step,” she said. She blamed the main Opposition for the number of days Parliament had lost and saw “frustration” in its move to block debates. “The BJP just does not appear to be interested in allowing Parliament to function normally. I thought with the passage of time, their frustration at losing the 2004 Lok Sabha elections would moderate. But clearly, that does not seem to be the case.”
Sonia also exhorted her MPs to gear up for the Himachal Pradesh polls, where the party is looking for a renewed mandate, as well as for subsequent polls in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland. She outlined their tasks for the period till the Budget Session: spend time in their constituencies, interact with the people, propagate the UPA’s achievements, assess the implementation of its programmes. She also listed the government’s recent achievements, including the pension scheme, national urban housing policy and the 11th Plan's focus on empowering weaker sections while sustaining high economic growth.
Condemning the violence in Assam, where an Adivasi girl was stripped in public, Sonia said such incidents must not be allowed to recur. Referring to the recent blasts in Uttar Pradesh, she called for stepped up “actionable intelligence” and greater vigilance and monitoring of sensitive public places.