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Sonia Gandhi hits out at BJP on nuclear deal

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: A day after the United Progressive Alliance government found itself isolated in Parliament on the India-U.S. nuclear agreement, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the BJP on the issue.

At a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Ms. Gandhi said the nuclear debate in Parliament exposed the “hollowness” of the BJP’s stance.

“For the fifth time, I think, both External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have reiterated that the agreement, in no way, impinges on our national sovereignty and that Parliament will be kept fully informed at every step.”

Ms. Gandhi touched upon issues such as the “violence in Nandigram” and the “brutalities in Gujarat.” She asked the party men to spend time in their constituencies till the budget session.

She congratulated Dr. Singh for his “wise leadership demonstrated through his quiet determination.”

The party had many accomplishments to its credit in the three-and-a-half years that it had been in the government.

Criticising the BJP’s continued “obstructionist attitude” in Parliament, Ms. Gandhi said despite the government’s willingness to debate each issue, that party did not appear to be interested. “I thought that with the passage of time their frustration at having lost the 2004 elections would moderate. But clearly that does not seem to be the case.”

Referring to the coming Gujarat elections, she said: “The media had exposed the active involvement of the BJP leadership in the brutalities that took place in 2002” and that “the people had seen through the exaggerated claims on development.”

The Congress, in its campaign, was affirming its commitment to fundamental, constitutional and secular values and highlighting the failures of the State government, she said.

Permanent solution

Without naming the Left parties, the Congress president also brought up the Nandigram issue. She said: “The cult of violence and the manner in which armed party cadres prevented the law and order machinery from fulfilling its obligations to the people is most unfortunate. A permanent solution must be found to ensure that such incidents do not occur again and again.”

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