M A I N   N E W S

Days of coalitions numbered, says Sonia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today virtually gave credit to the Vajpayee government’s peace initiative with Pakistan when she said the process would be taken forward if her party was voted to power.

In her address at the “India Today” conclave here, Ms Gandhi also said coalition politics would not last for ever and that the polity would revert to major political parties.

On the Indo-Pak peace process, she said, in the question-answer session: “The Congress has supported the peace initiative by the Prime Minister. We stood by our belief that we should restart the peace initiative with Pakistan. Eventually, we are happy that the Prime Minister has listened to us. That initiative will be taken forward if the Congress comes to power.”

In the question-answer session, Ms Gandhi said: “I am not convinced that it (coalition politics era) will last for ever.” To a question whether there was a need for coalition politics, she said it was likely to last for “quite sometime..... some years before the polity reversed to major political parties.”

Ms Gandhi agreed that the political parties should disclose all expenses incurred during electioneering. In fact, the Congress had set up a committee under Mr Manmohan Singh to look into the issue. But the committee’s functioning was very slow and no final report was submitted. She expressed her agreement with the suggestion of a political reform in the country to cleanse politics.

Ms Gandhi also favoured a hike in the upper ceiling for election expenses for each candidate. Asked whether the antecedents of each candidate would be looked into before allotting tickets, she said they would not be given tickets if there were serious charges against them.

It was her party that had welcomed the Supreme Court directive not to allow candidates with criminal records from contesting elections, she added.

Asked what would be the three important tasks that she would like to take up if she became the Prime Minister, Ms Gandhi said “these would be the restoration of rule of law for a better social harmony, revival of agriculture by increasing public investment and expanding rural credit and acceleration of production growth to provide employment to youth.”

Ms Gandhi also said her party would welcome any assistance by the private sector. “Private and corporate sectors are welcome to give cheques”. She also favoured some sort of government funding for electioneering.

She said politics was all about forging new social alliances and alignments, giving new confidence to old identities and this trend should be welcomed.

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