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Sonia slams divisive Senas

Congress President Sonia Gandhi (63) on Monday lashed out at the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for promoting regional, religion and caste-based politics.
By Yogesh Joshi | Hindustan Times, Pune
UPDATED ON APR 20, 2009 11:56 PM IST

Congress President Sonia Gandhi (63) on Monday lashed out at the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for promoting regional, religion and caste-based politics.

Addressing a rally at Pune in support of Congress candidate Suresh Kalamadi, Gandhi said certain parties in Maharashtra are trying to gain political mileage in the name of region, caste and religion.

Maharashtra mein, kuchh partiya pradesh, dharm aur jati ke naam par apni rotiya sekhne mein lagi hui hai (There are certain parties in the state trying to make political capital on the name of region, religion and caste),” said Sonia in an obvious reference to the recent agitations by MNS and Shiv Sena on the issue of Marathi asmita (identity).

“To such parties, I want to say that people have understood their politics. The people in India are smarter and understand everything,” she added.

She also requested the crowd to support development over destruction. “I would like to ask you what will you support — progress or destruction?”

Raking up, once again, the issue of weak leadership, Gandhi taunted BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani for taking directions from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“They target Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for not taking any decision independently. But do they not look upon a specific organisation for directions?” said Gandhi, without actually naming the RSS. “The Congress, in fact, has never looked to any individual or organisation for directions.

It’s the party which work on the hopes of common man,” she added. The Congress president did not even spare the Third Front in her seven-minute speech in the thinly crowded rally.

“Today there is a fashion to form a front. But let me tell you proudly that there is no front but it’s only the only Congress party which is fighting against poverty, unemployment and non-secularism,” Sonia told the crowds.

She also spoke about some of the United Progressive Alliance’s schemes, including loan waiver for farmers. This was Gandhi’s only rally in western Maharashtra.

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