New Delhi, Dec 21: In a clear political message, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today dismissed any impression that there are differences between the party and the government and the programmes and policies are correct.
However, she did not not make a reference to the controversial decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, which the government had to put on hold following stiff Opposition in Parliament and outside.
“Every now now and then, our political opponents have been trying to create an impression that there are differences between the Congress party and the government. Let me once and for all nail this. There may well be differing points of view. But whatever is eventually done is done together,”[ she said addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).
Gandhi said she saw no no reason for the party to be “defeatist” but admitted that what seemed to be lacking was a more effective effort by both the party and the government in communicating and propagating the accomplishments.
A day after the Union Cabinet cleared the Lokpal Bill, she said she would fight for its passage in Parliament.
Gandhi accused the Opposition of being opportunistic and made a veiled attack on the BJP saying it has not not reconciled to the defeat in 2004 and 2009 elections.
“Let us fight the forces out to destabilise us, forces who never accepted the verdict of 2004, and never reconciled themselves to the renewed mandate we got in 2009,” she said in her speech to the CPP General Body Meeting, the first in the current session coming to a close next week.
Gandhi said the Opposition may be loud but it is opportunistic. Logic and merit are lost in their obstructionist tactics.
Gandhi said, “Our programmes are productive, our policies are correct. In a democracy, there is always room for some give and take. But our direction is clear and we must move forward.”
She said much time of the winter session has been lost because the Opposition not not only persisted with but also intensified its obstructionist tactics.
“We have never refused a debate on any of the issues the Opposition demanded. I wonder if the sole objective of the BJP-led NDA is to derail our legislative agenda. However, we will not not be deterred.”
Gandhi referred to the Food Security Bill, cleared by the Union Cabinet, and called it a “truly landmark decision” though she admitted that there are still some concerns about it.
“We must make it work because it will protect a huge number of our people from hunger and malnutrition.......We must take it to the people and make it a central part of our political campaign,” she said.
Gandhi also rejected criticism that the Congress and the government were accused of not not tackling the scourge of corruption.
“This is deliberate and malicious misinformation.” She referred to three bills—protection of whistleblowers, judicial accountability and strengthening anti-money launder operations, and other measures like citizens charter to be passed soon which, she said, will tackle corruption at the lowest level.
On the debate on the black money issue raised by BJP leader L K Advani, Gandhi said the finance minister forcefully articulated the government's positions and actions.
“He thoroughly exposed the hollowness and duplicity of the charges of the opposition including the conspicuous lack of action all the years the NDA was in power,” she said.
Maintaining that there seems to be some relief on the price front, Gandhi said controlling inflation will remain the overriding priority.
“We recognise that nothing hurts the aam admi (common man) more than rising food prices.” Referring to the coming assembly elections in five states, she said that in both Uttarakhand and Punjab there is a definite sentiment in favour of Congress and expressed confidence that it would come to power if the party worked with a sense of purpose and, above all, unity.
“In Uttar Pradesh too where we face considerable odds, there is growing support for us—the challenge is to convert the support into votes on polling day. All of us representing Uttar Pradesh must work hard in our respective constituencies to support the efforts being made by our colleagues.”
She said in Manipur and Goa where the party is ruling the achievements of the past five years gave her the confidence that it would get a renewed mandate.