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Sonia lambasts BJP for boycott
Defends Manmohan Singh
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today came out in stout defence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even as she lambasted the BJP-led NDA for spreading canards against him in crude and offensive language.

Coming down heavily on the NDA for its self-imposed boycott of the budget session, Mrs Gandhi said they first invented one excuse after another to justify their action and then spread canards against the Prime Minister, who went out of his way to persuade the Opposition leadership to return to the House.

“Not even our most bitter critic can accuse our Prime Minister of being arrogant, subjective and or inconsiderate. Yet, this is what the BJP has done,” she told the Congress Parliamentary Party’s general body meeting today. She exhorted party MPs to explain to their constituents “how parliamentary democracy has been subverted so blatantly by those who often talked of mariada.”

She said BJP’s decision to boycott the session was essentially an attempt to take the focus away from its internal dissensions and its total disarray to issues that have no consistent or substantive content. “Else, why would they have not accepted the offer of the Prime Minister to discuss any of the issues agitating them?” she asked.

The Congress President also went out of her way to congratulate the Prime Minister for his “dignified and effective leadership” of the UPA government which is completing one year in office. She said the government will present a specific progress report about its achievements at its first anniversary on May 22. Expressing satisfaction at the goals achieved across a spectrum of sectors, Mrs. Gandhi said the government was unable to pass the historic Rural Employment Guarantee Act because the standing committee scrutinising it had not returned the Bill because of the BJP boycott.

The Congress president said they too had agitated while in Opposition but their protests related to issues like the tehelka expose, Gujarat riots, CAG indictments on the coffins purchased the Kargil martyrs and sale of PSUs at undervalued prices. In this connection , she referred to the recent CAG reports on the disinvestment of two Mumbai hotels by the NDA government and the improper use of public funds for the “India Shining” campaign, stating that they had only vindicated the Congress stand. “I hope the government will take follow-up action,” she added.

She said fresh revelations had also shown the brazen manner in which the Phukan Commission of inquiry into the tehelka scam was sought to be influenced by those under investigation, clearly referring to former Defence Minister George Fernandes.

Having come under attack for its handling of the Jharkhand political crisis, Mrs. Gandhi today alleged that fresh reports suggest it was the BJP which indulged in the “buying and selling of legislators” to put together a majority.


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