Sunday, March 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong ready for coalition
Plans nationwide stir to dislodge NDA govt
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, March 17
Realising that it might not be possible for the Congress to win a majority on its own in case of a snap general election, its leadership has changed track by declaring in the draft of its political resolution that it is ready for electoral or coalition arrangements with secular parties, even as it planned a countrywide agitation to dethrone the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.

Party President Sonia Gandhi launched a frontal attack against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the ruling conglomerate, saying that it had lost the right to govern on moral grounds.

Setting the tone for deliberations at the two-day 81st plenary session of the Congress here today, Mrs Gandhi fired the first salvo, observing that the Prime Minister was shielding the culprits and the goings-on smacked of treachery and deception for which the Vajpayee government could not be forgiven.

Speaking with a new-found verve, the Congress President was unsparing in her criticism of Mr Vajpayee and the partners of the NDA government, emphasising that the BJP has been exposed before the country. Seething with anger, she said we saw the sad spectacle of a Prime Minister defending the indefensible to remain in power. While the Congress did not imagine that the BJP-led NDA would descend so low and make commerce of national security, Mrs Gandhi said this has shocked the whole nation.

It is apparent that Mrs Gandhi had sensed the mood in the rank and file of the Congress of putting up a fight against the BJP-led NDA government for its acts of omission and commission in the wake of expose. It is utterly shameful the manner in which the BJP and its allies have driven this country to such a pass, she said in a raised voice.

Realising that it might not be possible for the party to win a majority on its own in case of a snap general election, the Congress leadership changed track by declaring in the draft of its political resolution that it was prepared to enter into appropriate electoral or coalition arrangements with secular parties on the basis of mutual understanding but always without compromising its basic ideology. This means there is no question of the Congress having an understanding with communal forces like the BJP or any party consorting with communal forces.

The draft resolution noted that the priority was to forestall the BJP from pursuing its ulterior motive of pushing forward its core communal agenda. The Congress would play a pro-active role in restoring secular governance to this country.

In this way alone can the unity and integrity of our nation be ensured, the resolution said on electoral alliances and coalition governments. Though it signifies a shift from the strategy unfolded in Pachmarhi, the Congress maintained that it was clarifying some misinterpretation of its position.

It explained that the party would not do anything that could weaken the party or compromise its basic ideology.

Considering the controversy whipped up by tehelka.comís disclosure of widespread corruption in the Vajpayee government, speaker after speaker at the Congress session exhorted the leadership to bring down the NDA government to save the country from being bartered away to vested interests. They also urged the Congress leadership not to worry about the consequences in the event of the Vajpayee government making its exit. What is of prime importance is to see the back of the NDA government as the poor, minorities and underprivileged did not figure in its scheme of things.

Speakers underlined the need for the Congress to stand up and fight the injustices being perpetrated on the nation by the NDA government.

If the Vajpayee government fell, the party high command could decide on how to deal with the new situation. Moving the political resolution, senior Congressman and former union minister Arjun Singh said that the Vajpayee government had made a mockery of democracy. Mr Vajpayee must understand the nuances of democracy coupled with the imperatives of office. He assured the assemblage that the Congress was alive to its responsibility.

Haryana Pradesh Congress committee president Bhupinder Singh Hooda accused the BJP of being corruption personified and said that the people at large had rallied around the Congress. He commended the Congress President for infusing a new sense of purpose and unity in the rank and file of the party. The resolution said that the Congress joined the people of India in demanding that this government, whose greed and avarice have jeopardised our jawans and rendered us vulnerable to our enemies must go.

On the state of the nation, the resolution said that rejuvenation of the Congress was the necessary pre-requisite for national regeneration.

On J and K, the resolution reiterated that the state was an integral inalienable part of the Union of India. The Congress recognises that it mush reach out to sections of the electorate who have turned elsewhere. This means reassessing with an objective and questioning the strengths and weaknesses of the party.

The draft political resolution was adopted by the subjects committee of the AICC this afternoon and will be placed before the plenary tomorrow for approval.

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