Friday, February 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Defence scams insult to soldiers: Sonia
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, February 7
The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, chiding the BJP leadership for advising the Congress not to rake up issues pertaining to shady defence deals on the pretext that it would demoralise the security forces, said today that the BJP-led NDA government had lost all morality and brought insult to the sacrifices made by brave Punjabi soldiers for protecting the dignity and honour of the nation.

Mrs Gandhi was given a rousing welcome by a huge gathering when she came on the stage accompanied by the AICC general secretaries, Mr Moti Lal Vora and Ms Ambika Soni, the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, a former PPCC President, Mr Varinder Kataria, and an MLA, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, to address an election rally. Using Punjabi words in her speech, she said the time had come for the people to bring an end to an era of devastation, atrocities and cruelty in Punjab.

Referring to the appeal made by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urging political parties not to rake up the coffin scam, she said some parties which used to level allegations against the then Congress governments, were now advising the Congress leadership not to raise issues pertaining to defence deals. She said it was very shameful on the part of those parties.

Making an oblique reference to the hue and cry raised by the BJP and other parties on the Bofors gun deal, Mrs Gandhi asked why those people were now advising the Congress not to raise issues related to shady defence deals. She said a “parivartan lehar” had started blowing in favour of the Congress across the country, especially in the four states where Assembly elections were being held.

Lashing out at the SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab, the AICC President alleged that it had destroyed the economy of the state and initiated an era of devastation. She said the SAD-BJP alliance, by coming to power, had fulfilled its own objective but belied the people’s hopes. “Bahadur Punjabion ke chehre par udaasi aur mayusi hai aur behnno ke cheron se muskan uth gayee hai”, she said.

“Aap unse poochhe ke woh Punjab ko barbadi kee kis seema tak le jana chahte hai”, she said referring to SAD and BJP leaders.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who spoke for few minutes, said a wave had emerged in favour of the Congress in the state and it would lead to the crushing defeat of the SAD-BJP alliance. He also presented a “siropa” (robe of honour) and a sword to Mrs Gandhi.

Later, candidates from various Assembly segments, namely Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Mr Sukhraj Singh Nat, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Gurjant Singh Kutiwal, Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu and Mr Jasmel Singh were called on to the stage for an introduction with the gathering.

Sushil Goyal adds from Sangrur: Mrs Sonia Gandhi on Thursday called upon Punjabis to teach a lesson to the SAD-BJP alliance in the Assembly elections for pushing the state to the brink of destruction with its “anti-people” policies.

Mrs Gandhi was addressing a massive Congress rally at the local War Heroes Stadium. It was organised to give a boost to the election campaign of Mr Arvind Khanna, Congress candidate from the Sangrur Assembly constituency.

Mrs Gandhi said she had asked the Punjab Congress to honour the party manifesto in letter and spirit.

Mrs Gandhi was presented with a “sri sahib” (sword) by Capt Amarinder Singh. Later, Capt Amarinder Singh introduced all Congress candidates of the district to Ms Gandhi on the rostrum.

Mrs Gandhi was accompanied on the rostrum by Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr Moti Lal Vora, Mr Arvind Khanna and Mr Jasbir Singh, a former MLA from Sangrur.


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