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‘Defeat divisive forces’

Addressing three rallies across Orissa, Congress president Sonia Gandhi slammed saffron outfits over Kandhamal riots. Priya Ranjan Sahu reports.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2009 01:28 IST
Priya Ranjan Sahu

Hot on the heels of BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, Congress president Sonia Gandhi arrived in Orissa on Thursday. She addressed three rallies at Bargarh in western Orissa and Congress strongholds of Koraput and Berhampur in south.

A single-party government at the Centre, Kandhamal and defeating divisive forces formed the core of her speeches at all the three rallies.

Sonia reached the packed venue at Bargarh aboard a helicopter at 11 am. She appealed to the people to vote the Congress back to power to defeat the “avsarwadi gathbandhan” (opportunistic alliances) that have throttled India’s development.

“There was a time when the Centre and the states had one party in the government. As a result, it was easier to work together for the development of the country. From Independence to nation building, the leaders of the Congress Party have made supreme sacrifices for the development of the country,” Sonia said.

Sonia said in the last five years despite being a coalition, the UPA government had worked towards the uplift of the poor. Programmes, like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, have worked wonders for the poor. “However, the BJD-BJP government in Orissa has tried to take credit for many programmes initiated by the Centre.”

She also took a dig at the saffron family, but without taking any names. “We must be alert against the divisive forces and foil the machinations of those who sow the seeds of hatred in the name of religion and caste. The people of Orissa have been living in peace and harmony for years. They do not want violence. But some forces fuel hatred and violence among people, like in Kandhamal. Defeat those forces. Maintain peace and harmony to make progress,” she appealed.