Friday, January 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong leaders present show of unity
From Yoginder Gupta and Rahul Das

AMBALA, Jan 13 — Senior leaders of the Haryana Congress appeared at one platform here today.

A Congress rally was organised in pursuance of a decision taken by the campaign committee of the party recently that such rallies would be held at all the four divisional headquarters to send a signal to the workers and the people that the Congress was now no longer a divided house.

Various leaders, including the party chief, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda; the former Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal; the Chairman of the Congress campaign committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala; and the former party president, Mr Birender Singh, emphasised that there was a general complaint by the party workers that in the absence of unity among the senior leaders, the Congress could not get the support of the masses.

They said under the directions of the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and due to the pressure from the workers, the leaders had sunk their differences so that the party could sweep the ensuing Assembly elections when he described the Chautala Government as “Jhoot Ki Sarkar”, evoking laughter from the audience, which was dominated by the Sikhs, ostensibly the result of mobilisation by Mr Nirmal Singh, former MLA from the Naggal constituency.

Mr Swamy’s refrain was picked by the State leaders who dubbed various announcements made by the Chief Minister as a “pack of false promises.”

Mr Hooda said if the Congress was united, no one could defeat it in the elections. Referring to the heavy rain in the earlier part of the day, the Congress President said it rained because the Congress leaders had come on one platform. Dubbing the BJP as an “opportunist party”, Mr Hooda said it could enter into an alliance with discredited powers or persons for the sake of capturing power as had been shown by its ties with Mr Sukh Ram in Himachal Pradesh.

Describing the Chautala Government as anti-farmer, Mr Hooda coined a slogan: “Chautala Ke Raj Main; Jiri (paddy) Gai Biaj (interest) Main.”

He said Mr Chautala could not provide a stable government because already there were rumblings between the INLD and the BJP.

Mr Birender Singh said the Congress would not make any such promise with the electorate which it could not fulfil. He said they wanted to make the Haryana Congress a people’s movement.

Mr Surjewala said the Congress had decided to launch its campaign from Ambala because in May, 1989 also the party had started its movement against the Devi Lal Government from here and in the 1991 elections the Janata Dal was voted out of power in Haryana.

Mr Bhajan Lal said the Congress leaders had united with the sole aim of providing an able government in Haryana. He accused Mr Chautala of making false promises. With an eye on the large presence of the Sikhs in the audience Mr Bhajan Lal greeted them in Punjabi on the occasion of Lohri. He evoked a good response. The AICC General Secretary, Mr Moti Lal Vora, said the all Congressmen had come on one platform in response to a call given by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. By holding premature elections the Chautala Government had given an opportunity to the people to change the government in the State.

Mr Lachman Singh, MP, said when the Vajpayee Government had fallen early this year, the BJP blamed the Congress for putting huge financial burden on the country. Now Mr Chautala had dissolved the State Assembly 17 months ahead of the scheduled expiry of its term. The BJP now could not escape from sharing the responsibility of putting Rs 50 crore burden on the State exchequer by pushing Haryana into unnecessary elections.

The turnout at the rally must have gladdened the hearts of Lok Dal supporters. It was obvious that barring Mr Nirmal Singh no party leader of Ambala had made a sincere effort to mobilise the people for the rally.

The stage secretary, Mr Balwant Gupta, President of the Ambala DCC, described the rally as a workers’ meeting.

Senior leaders, like Mr Hooda, however, said the turnout was impressive considering the inclement weather.

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