M A I N   N E W S

Opposition is fine, but be responsible: Sonia
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Jind, May 14
The UPA Chairman and AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, today accused the BJP-led NDA of not “behaving like a responsible Opposition” and “not being honest”, as a result of which a number of important pieces of legislation like the Employment Guarantee Scheme Bill had been held up in Parliament.

Addressing a mammoth, but utterly chaotic, “dhanyavad rally” in the Police Lines here, Mrs Gandhi said the NDA’s boycott of Parliament was unjustified.

Lambasting the Opposition, Mrs Gandhi said it had first said the Congress would not be able to form a government at the Centre. “After the UPA government was formed, it said the government would not last. However, the Opposition’s hopes have been dashed. The Dr Manmohan Singh-led government will complete its first year this month. Despite constraints of a coalition, our government has performed very well.”

Mrs Gandhi, who was visibly upbeat over the massive turnout, described the Right to Information Act as a “historic” piece of legislation, which would make the administration “more transparent”.

She said Haryana made progress only under the Congress rule. Whenever other parties came to power, its development was stalled. “Same was the case at the Centre,” she said.

Reminding the people that the Centre had launched the Rajiv Vidyutikaran Yojana (electrification scheme) for villages, Mrs Gandhi said it was true that villages in Haryana had power lines, but the supply was not adequate under the previous government. She directed the Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to ensure a regular power supply in the state.

Mrs Gandhi said whereas the massive popular mandate was a matter of pride for the Congress, it had also posed a big challenge for the party. Making use of the famous phrase used by a former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she reminded Mr Hooda and his colleagues that in a democracy the true “raj dharma” was to live up to the trust of the people in the government. “This is “raj dharma” as well as the dharma of the Congress. Hume sache raj dharam ka palan karna hoga.” She exhorted the Chief Minister not to discriminate against any section of society as well as to ensure that “Hamari kathni aur karni mein koi farak no ho (There should not be any gap between our promises and action).”

She also reminded her party men that for the Congress politics was a means to serve the people and the country.

On her part, Mrs Gandhi assured all help from the Centre for Haryana’s development. “You have suffered a lot under the previous government. Now, there will not be any obstacle to the state’s development.”

She also asked the state government to pay special attention to the welfare of the youth, Dalits, women and to take steps to check the declining sex ratio.

Describing Mrs Gandhi as the “holy stream of the Ganga in the present-day polluted politics, Mr Hooda said she had earlier also visited Jind, which was the place from where farmers started their agitation against the Chautala government and the Congress led a 350-km “padyatra” to express its solidarity with them. “This shook the foundation of the INLD misrule in the state.”

Urging the people to forget the INLD misrule as a “bad dream”, he said the state was now witnessing a new dawn. Highlighting various decisions taken by his government in the past two months for the welfare of various sections like farmers, women, ex-servicemen and traders, Mr Hooda also announced a number of welfare schemes for women “in deference to the wishes of Mrs Gandhi.

To check the declining sex ratio, the government would pay Rs 5,000 per annum for five years on the birth of the second daughter. Under the Indira Gandhi Vivah Shagun scheme, Rs 15,000 would be paid as “kanya daan” at the marriage of girls belonging to weaker sections. Indira Gandhi Government Girls College would be set up in Jind. Women development cooperative societies would be set up, which would be managed by women. The proposed education city would be named after Rajiv Gandhi. A rebate of 2 per cent would be given on the stamp duty if a property was transferred in the name of a woman.

He also promised that the backlog of posts reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Backward Classes would be cleared on priority.

Giving a clear indication of the government’s plan to waive off power bill arrears of farmers, Mr Hooda said: “Is ka phaya hum hi katenga (only we will solve this problem.” However, he sought an assurance from the audience that in future the power bills would be paid regularly.

Earlier, welcoming Mrs Gandhi, the working president of the Haryana Congress, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, thanked her for giving the state a “Chief Minister, who is straightforward, has a clean image and is committed to eradicating corruption and ending the atmosphere of fear in the state.

Mr Surjewala assured Mrs Gandhi that the Congress would again form the government after five years “under the leadership of Mr Hooda”. Before the elections, Mr Surjewala was also considered a contender for the post of Chief Minister.

Among others who spoke were the AICC General Secretary, Mr Janardhan Dwivedi, and the Union Minister, Ms Selja.

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