M A I N   N E W S

Cong unveils plan to tackle corruption
Sonia talks tough on terror, Rahul defines ‘aam aadmi’ as party celebrates 125 yrs
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, December 19
As a belligerent Opposition gets ready to launch a nationwide campaign to expose the UPA government’s involvement in various scams, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today launched a scathing attack on the BJP for shielding the corrupt. She also delineated a four-point anti-corruption plan for implementation by the Centre.

In Defence of Manmohan

Describing the PM as an “embodiment of sobriety, integrity and dignity”, she said the “Opposition attack against him is downright despicable.” She complimented the PM for his “wise leadership”, for remaining calm amidst a storm and for his unwavering devotion to the progress and prosperity of the nation. “The party stands solidly with him,” she emphasised, repeating the remarks she had made in her speech to party MPs on the last day of Parliament. Sonia Gandhi’s public declaration of unequivocal support to the PM was meant to be a message both to the Opposition and the Congress.

Addressing the 83rd Congress plenary on the outskirts of Delhi at Burari, the Congress president was at her combative best as she countered the Opposition offensive by putting the BJP in the dock for its failure to act against Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa for alleged corruption and accused the main Opposition of holding Parliament “hostage to political blackmail”.

She suggested a number of steps that, she felt, could help confront corruption head-on. She said there was merit in a new system of fast-tracking corruption cases, including public officials and politicians. “Bring corruption cases to closure within a defined time-frame,” she underlined, adding that this would bring the guilty to book quickly and clear those unfairly charged.

She said Congress Chief Ministers should set an example by giving up discretionary powers in land allocation. This was a clear reference to the alleged involvement of Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa in various land scams. “We have ample evidence that all discretionary powers, particularly in land distribution, breed corruption. I would like all CMs and ministers at the Centre and in the states to set an example by relinquishing such powers,” she said.

The Congress president underlined the need for greater transparency in public procurement and contracts through legislation and clear procedures. And if the need be, whistleblowers must be protected, she added.

She spoke of an open and competitive system for selling natural resources. Sonia Gandhi said this was promised in the Congress manifesto but had now acquired greater urgency. The brunt of Sonia Gandhi’s remarks on corruption were directed against the BJP, which disrupted the entire winter session of Parliament to press its demand for a JPC probe into 2G Spectrum allocation.




Digvijay compares RSS with Nazis
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, December 19
The Congress today fought back the Opposition onslaught on it on corruption by targeting the BJP for its divisive and communal agenda and the RSS and its affiliates on its links with terrorists, while calling upon the government to investigate the matter.

Having been defensive over the 2G scam and Congress general secretary’s controversial remarks on radical Hindu terror groups, the party shed its hesitation and instead plunged headlong into taking on the BJP-RSS combine on the issue of terror. The party’s strategy was firmed up at the day-long meeting of its subjects committee yesterday when it was decided to stop being apologetic about taking on the BJP frontally by exposing the RSS’ links with acts of terror.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi set the ball rolling in her inaugural address at the 83rd plenary session when she came out strongly against “individuals, organisations and ideologies” that misused religion to fan hatred and disharmony but refrained from naming the BJP or the RSS. Careful not to stir up any further trouble, she said there was no difference between majority and minority terror, saying both posed a serious threat to the country and needed to be combated fiercely. However, Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s speech as well as the political resolution adopted this evening launched a no-holds barred attack on the BJP, its mother organisation, the RSS, and its affiliates. The controversial leader, who was in the eye of a storm recently over his remarks on Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed in the 26/11 terrorist attacks, created a stir when he charged the RSS of targeting Muslims like Hitler’s Nazi party had targeted Jews.

For the first time, the party’s political resolution openly spoke of the nexus between terrorists and the RSS and its sister organisations and asked the government to investigate the links uncovered in the recent past. Linking the role of religious fundamentalist organisations to the larger issue of the country’s security, the resolution clubbed it with Left-wing extremism and the threat posed by cross-border terrorism.

The resolution was equally sharp in its attack on the ideology of the BJP and the RSS which, it said, was destroying the country’s secular fabric by spreading hatred and violence. “The RSS and the BJP are insidious in their efforts to break India,” the resolution said, adding that these organisations hide their prejudice behind the rhetoric of economic progress and pseudo-nationalism. Digvijay Singh, who seconded the political resolution, was unwavering in his stand on the BJP and the RSS. Launching a blistering attack on the RSS, he also accused BJP patriarch LK Advani of creating a divide between Hindus and Muslims during his rath yatra in early nineties.

“The RSS and BJP pose the biggest threat to the country today. Just as Hitler’s Nazi party had targeted Jews under the garb of nationalism, the RSS was doing the same by targeting Muslims,” he thundered, adding that the demolition of the Babri Masjid by these right-wing organisations was the biggest blot on the face of Indian democracy.

Continuing his tirade against the RSS, he alleged that it had managed to infiltrate into several government wings. “Investigations into the Malegoan blast case revealed the role of two Army officers in it, proving that it had even started influencing people in the Army.”





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