Sunday, February 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sonia Gandhi smells a rat
Review of Constitution
From Jatinder Sharma

JHAJJAR, Feb 19 — The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, reiterated here today that her party would oppose the constitutional review process initiated by the BJP-led Government at the Centre.

Addressing an election rally organised here for the Vidhan Sabha elections scheduled for February 22, she alleged that it was being carried out with evil designs.

The Congress President adhered to the time-table and arrived at the rally on the scheduled time. Women in large numbers formed the part of the large gathering that came to listen to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. People, particularly the women, were very curious to see Sonia Gandhi on her maiden visit to one of the most backward districts of Haryana.

Mrs Gandhi expressed concern over the moves by the governments in the BJP-ruled States allowing public servants to participate in the RSS activities. “This reflects the real intention of the BJP in the states ruled by it”. she said.

She said the panchayati raj system introduced by the late Mr Rajiv Gandhi demonstrated the Congress party’s commitment to strengthen power at the grassroots level. The Congress, she warned, would not allow the Vajpayee Government to tinker with the Constitution.

The Congress leader blamed the Vajpayee Government for its wrong policies which led to hike in prices of essential commodities. She said that if the INLD-BJP was voted to power, the jump in prices of essential commodities would touch an all-time record.

The Congress President promised to put Haryana back on the development track if the Congress was voted to power. The progressive trend set during the previous Congress regimes were reversed during the Bansi Lal tenure and the INLD-BJP regime, she said.

Mrs Gandhi said the Congress would accord priority to creation of more employment avenues, development of agriculture and cottage industry, better education, peace and social justice. She assured adequate power supply to the industrial sector.

Specifically mentioning the contribution of Indira Gandhi in the carving out of this State, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said it were the Congress governments at the Centre and in the State which were instrumental in the development of the State during its initial stages.

The AICC General Secretary, Mr Motil Lal Vora, a former Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, the Pradesh Congress chief, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda,, and the AICC Joint Secretary, Mr Narainswamy, accompanied Mrs Gandhi.

Vimal Sumbly adds from Narwana: Mrs Gandhi repeated her charges against the National Democratic Alliance Government.

Addressing a well-sttended public meeting in support of the Congress candidate form here, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mrs Gandhi alleged, the NDA Government had constituted the constitution review panel, only to fulfil the hidden agenda of a particular party.

Praising the Constitution, she pointed out, it had remained a torch bearer for the nation for a half century and regretted that, for serving narrow sectarian and partisan agenda, it was being sought to be subverted. She said, reviewing the Constitution means, rejecting the ideals of our great leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. They had visualised and conceptulised the Constitution for the country, keeping in view its diverse culture.

She claimed, the foreign policy was being dictated by the foreign powers. The prestige of the country had come down, during the time of Mr Vajpayee’s prime ministership.

Claiming that only the Congress could guide and gurad the interests of the country, Mrs Gandhi said, wherever there was a Congress government, people were feeling safe and secure. Even at the Centre, whenever the Congress was in power, country’s image and esteem was always high in the international community.

Making a strong plea to voters to vote for the Congress, she said, only the Congress could provide a strong, stable and lasting government. Other parties are bothered about ensuring their own survival by way of manipulations and manoeuvrings. People’s interest is not on their agenda, she said.

Mrs Gandhi arrived here at 12 noon and stayed for about half an hour. She completed her speech in about 20 minutes, drawing frequent cheers and applause from the public. As the helicopter flew in the air, the entire crowd in the Navdeep Stadium here stood up waving towards the helicopter. As she stood on the specially-erected stage, she greeted the people in her usual style with folded hands. Besides others she was accompanied by the Congress candidates from neighbouring Assembly segments, including Jind, Tohana, Ucahana.

At Hansi, Mrs Gandhi struck an emotional cord, by saying that most of the time the people here had voted the Congress to power.

She pointed out, like at the Centre, no non-Congress government has been able to complete its full term in Haryana. Mrs Gandhi asked the people to ensure that the Congress candidate from Hansi Mr Vinod Bayana wins.

Mrs Gandhi also greeted the people here on the occasion of Guru Ravidass Jayanti. She paid homage to the martyrs of 1857 and said, she had been pleased to be in this hystorical town which had contributed a lot to the First War of Independence.

Mr Bhajan Lal appealed the people to vote for Mr Bayana and not be misled by anyone. Mr Amir Chand Makkar, a senior Congress leader and former minister who is contesting as an Independent had given an impression that he was being supported by Mr Bhajan Lal.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Hooda, Mr Vohra, AICC secretaries Ms Selja and Mr Mukul Wasnik, the party candidate from Hisar, Mr Om Parkash Jindal.

Shubhadeep Choudhury adds from Hansi: Mrs Gandhi addressing a well-attended election meeting at the HUDA Colony ground here, said that her mother-in-low late Mrs Indira Gandhi had created Haryana so that this area and its people could prosper.

Mrs Gandhi said that people in Haryana, particularly the farmers, were facing a lot of problems due to shortage in the supply of power and water. “If the Congress comes to power in Haryana, we will give top priority to these two areas”, she said.

HPCC President Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Mr Bhajan Lal and Ms Selja, who were present at the meeting also made brief speeches. These leaders harped on the theme of stability and said that only the Congress could provide a stable government. The Congress candidates from Hansi, Narnaul, Jind, Mundal Khurd, Bhawani Khera and Kheri were also present at the meeting, who were intorduced to the gathering by Mr Hooda, at the end of Mrs Gandhi’s speech.

Ashwani Dutta adds from Yamunanagar: Mrs Gandhi repeated her charges against the NDA alliance on issues of the constitutional review and stability. She blamed the non-Congress governments of Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Mr Bansi Lal for reversing the Congress-initiated welfare measures in Haryana.

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