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2G: Sonia defends Manmohan

Aarti Dhar

— Photo: V. Sudershan

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, flanked by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanaswamy and senior leader Motilal Vohra (right), briefing the media in New Delhi on Wednesday after a meeting at the party headquarters, following the announcement of the Bihar Assembly election results.

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday publicly defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first time since the 2G spectrum allocation controversy erupted, describing the Opposition targeting of him as “shameful.”

Making a rare appearance at the AICC headquarters on a day when the party received a severe drubbing in the Bihar Assembly polls, Ms. Gandhi said the BJP had to pay a price for trying to “destroy the image” of Dr. Singh in the last Lok Sabha elections. “It should draw a ‘lesson' from that.”

“It is shameful that a person of Dr. Singh's integrity should be targeted in this manner,” she told journalists when asked about the 2G issue. “Everyone knows the Prime Minister is 100 per cent above board. Everyone knows that kind of person, what kind of individual he is.”

Ms. Gandhi criticised the BJP for trying to corner the government over the 2G spectrum scam. Comparing the Congress' decision of dealing with corruption with that of the BJP that has decided to retain B.S. Yeddyurappa as Karnataka Chief Minister, Ms. Gandhi said her party took action in making A. Raja, Natwar Singh, Shashi Tharoor and Ashok Chavan resign from their posts in the wake of corruption charges.

“In this case [2G], there was a Minister [Mr. Raja]; we asked him to resign,” she said and pointed out that the BJP had asked Mr. Yeddyurappa to resign, but he refused to do so.

Ms. Gandhi said:

“This is a matter which the party concerned has to decide. As far as the Congress is concerned, I think all of you have seen how we deal with matters of corruption. Starting from the issue of the Volcker deal in which Mr. Natwar Singh was involved, we asked him to resign immediately and we set up a judicial inquiry.

“Mr. Tharoor, we asked him to resign. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, as soon as the U.S. President [Barack] Obama left, we asked him to resign. It was planned before, but we did not want to execute it till the President left because he was going to Maharashtra.”

She termed corruption a shameful “ bimari” (disease) that had crept into the system.

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