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Sonia attacks BJP, says “divisive” ideology is the “biggest threat”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi being garlanded during AICC meeting in New Delhi

Party President Sonia Gandhi today attacked the BJP saying its “divisive” ideology is the “biggest threat” while it puts up a “pretence” of moderation

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi being garlanded during AICC meeting in New Delhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi being garlanded during AICC meeting in New Delhi

New Delhi: Signalling that Congress is ready for the battle ahead in the Lok Sabha elections, party President Sonia Gandhi today attacked the BJP saying its “divisive” ideology is the “biggest threat” while it puts up a “pretence” of moderation.

Facing BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi as the main opponent, she said secularism was a matter of deep faith for the Congress and not a matter of political compulsion.

In 20-minute speech, she also touched on the issue of corruption, a major issue stalking the UPA II government, appealing to parties to rise above political considerations to ensure passage of anti-corruption measures pending in Parliament.

“The biggest threat before the country is from communal forces and ideologies. Congress stands for uniting the people…but what is the approach of our main political opponent? I will tell you. You know it yourself.

“It is to divide the society on communal lines and spread hatred in the name of unity to impose a single identity.
They hide their real face behind the mask of moderate pretensions. They criticise our leaders and level false allegations against them and they go to the extent of spreading violence. How can such an ideology be tolerated,” Gandhi said addressing the day-long AICC session here without naming BJP.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, senior cabinet ministers and party leaders from all over the country heard her in rapt attention as she spoke of the successes of the UPA coalition.

She said the Congress workers should be proud that the party never compromised on its idelogy. “For Congress, secularism is not a political compulsion but a matter of deep faith,” she said.

Gandhi said as the Lok Sabha elections near, the party needs to send a “clear signal” that Congress is ready and prepared for the battle ahead.

“The Congress has faced many difficult times in the past, much tougher than today. But we have never lost heart. We have repeatedly demonstrated our resilience by remaining committed to our vision, to our values and the beliefs that have sustained us,” she said.

“In our long journey, we have seen many ups and downs. We have witnessed victories and faced defeats which are inescapable in politics. But we have kept ourselves vibrant,” Gandhi said.

And in these changing circumstances, she said, the Congress has to move forward in a gallant way. And in this, the party will be helped by its fighting spirit.

She said the electoral contest will witness a “sharpening combat” between competing ideologies, between competing interpretations of the past and between clashing visions of future.

“It will be a battle for India as was conceived by our founding fathers and as we cherish. It will be a battle for our age-old secular traditions,” she said.

Referring to the issue of corruption, Gandhi said the UPA government has laid out a five-point agenda to fight graft.

She appealed to political parties to rise above political considerations to help get the various anti- corruption bills pending in Parliament passed when the Winter session resumes on February 5.

Gandhi said despite false allegations levelled by the opposition, the UPA government stood ground and remained firm in taking decisions which were pro-people.

Referring to the rich-poor divide, the Congress President said while economic growth is essential, “it alone cannot address the problem of disparity.”

She said in the last one decade since UPA came to power, the party as well as the government have “responded to the stress” and taken various key policy decisions.

She said the UPA can “justifiably take credit” for the decisions it took to improve the state of the economy.

However, she did not shy away from accepting that while there had been an impressive economic growth, disparities in the society also remained.

Gandhi said the Congress-ruled states will implement the Lokayukta Act, based on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act passed by Parliament, by next month.

She also gave the Congress party credit for the historic Right to Information Act as she said that “transparency lies in the solution to fight corruption”.

PTI

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