My Notes by Dr. Khan

Opposition neck-deep in corruption: Congress

The Congress bigwigs including party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi utilised a well-attended party rally, where party chief ministers and other leaders were present, to convey the message that the party was on board on economic reforms and the recent fuel price hike notwithstanding the strident attack from the opposition.

Dispelling any impression about Congress and the government having second thoughts on the FDI issue, Ms. Sonia Gandhi said that the country needed a large dose of investement, of which FDI is a part, to boost growth and employment.

Lauding the stewardship of the Prime Minister at a time when the world was witnessing economic distress, she said that India has fared much better than many other countries and the government has to provide jobs for 80 to 100 lakh youth who enter the job market every year.

Against the backdrop of attacks on Congress over a number of scams, Ms. Gandhi said corruption is a cancer which affects the poor the most and declared that whoever is found guilty will not be spared.

In a veiled attack on BJP, which she did not name, Ms. Gandhi said that those levelling false allegations against Congress, were themselves “neckdeep” in corruption. ”

“Those who dig ditches for others, have a well ready for them”, she said quoting a Hindi proverb in an apparent reference to corruption charges against BJP including those faced by its President Nitin Gadkari.

Claiming credit for enacting RTI to bring transparency and check corruption, Ms. Gandhi said such a law can be brought only by those who want to eradicate corruption and that was the reason the government brought the Lokpal bill, but BJP did not allow its passage in Rajya Sabha.

“Our conscience is clear, our record is clean and our intentions are well. There is no need for the Congress to be on the defensive”, Ms. Sonia Gandhi said charging the opposition with trying to “weaken the foundations of democracy".

She alleged that those who are levelling allegations against the government, which have been elected twice, wanted to weaken it by hook or by crook.

“They are continuosly obstructing Parliament. Why? The straight answer is that these people do not want laws for the welfare of the people to be passed and do not want discussion on matters of national importance,” Gandhi said.

In a similar vein, Mr. Rahul Gandhi said that the opposition is opposing the measures taken by the government without any thought.

“They are engaged in simply opposing without giving any thought,” Gandhi said, insisting that FDI in multi-brand retail will benefit farmers. He also reminded BJP that Congress, when it was in opposition, had backed the then ruling NDA fully on the Kargil conflict.

“It was BJP, which first talked of FDI. They were weak-hearted. We are strong-hearted. So we did. But when we did it, they said no to it in Parliament,” the Congress general secretary said.

Making a strong case for economic reforms, he said, “If the poor have to progress, then FDI is needed, the economic reforms are needed.”

The Prime Minister said that greater investment and positive atmosphere for the industry is needed for faster growth of the country.

“Recently, our government has taken certain decisions. Attempt is being made to mislead the people and spread all kind of rumours about them,” he said.

The strong stand of Congress and the government on the FDI issue has come at a time when the opposition is planning to make a common cause against the issue in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 22.

Noting that the opposition had protested when he as the Finance Minister had initiated economic reforms in 1991, the Prime Minister said, “A similar protest has begun now. I can say it with confidence that those, who are opposing us, will be proved wrong.”

Justifying the economic reform measures initated by his government, the Prime Minister said, “Be it a family, any business or the country, the expenditure cannot be more than its earning.

“The burden of subsidy is growing on the Centre in which oil subsidy is a major part. As far as I understand economic issues, it is the common man and the country which will suffer if the subsidy bill and the government’s deficit will continue to rise.

“It will lead to lack of confidence in our economy and rise in poverty and unemployment. That is why some difficult decisions have been taken about fuel pricing. But the poor have been kept in mind,” Dr. Singh said, adding that the price of kerosene oil have not been touched.

Ms. Sonia Gandhi also noted that despite pressures from all sides, the government did not increase the price of kerosene oil.

The Prime Minister asserted that Congress is focussed on making India a prosperous country and “if there is a need to bring changes in the policy for that, we will bring the changes“.

The Prime Minister, the Congress president and Rahul Gandhi said that the government is committed to bringing a strong Lokpal bill and will ensure that it happened soon.

While noting that fighting corruption is “duty” of the government, Dr. Singh also had a word of caution. “We should also keep in mind that we should not create situations in which honest officers avoid taking decisions“.

All the three leaders said they were committed to the Food Security Bill.

Traffic goes haywire

Traffic went haywire in Central Delhi due to the Congress rally attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi putting commuters to hardships.

Roads leading to Ramlila Maidan were choked with vehicles carrying party workers from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and long serpentine queues of vehicles were seen on Ring Road and ITO.

It took more than half-an-hour for commuters on way to ITO to cross a length of less than one-km from Yamuna bridge on Vikas Marg.

Police had a tough time regulating traffic on a Sunday which usually witnesses very less movement of vehicles in the city during day time.

Ring Road from Sarai Kale Khan to Raj Ghat was also choc-a-bloc while NH-24 linking Delhi with Uttar Pradesh saw traffic snarl-ups.

“Normally, I take around five minutes to reach Pragati Maidan from Millenium Park. But today I took 40 minutes to cross that stretch,” said Mayank Kulkarni, an engineer.


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