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Don't denigrate institution of Prime Minister: Sonia

Smita Gupta

We dealt with corruption better than BJP-led NDA government

— PHOTO: AP

REMEMBERING MARTYRS:BJP leader L.K. Advani greets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday as they pay homage to the victims of the 2001 Parliament attack in New Delhi.

New Delhi: On the closing day of the winter session of Parliament, in which a united Opposition targeted the Congress, not even sparing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the 2G spectrum scam issue, Congress president Sonia Gandhi came out strongly in his support.

Addressing Congress Parliamentary Party members here on Monday, Ms. Gandhi said nothing should be done to “denigrate the institution of Prime Minister.”

“Our government has nothing to hide. Our government has nothing to fear. Our concerns are that we should not undermine the established institutions such as the PAC and the CBI” — references to the Opposition demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the 2G scam.

Referring to Dr. Singh, Ms. Gandhi said: “In spite of some forces placing formidable obstacles to good governance under the Prime Minister's leadership, India has weathered the international financial crisis. Economic growth revived after a short hiatus, and we have recorded 8.9 per cent growth in GDP [Gross Domestic Product] in the first half of 2010-2011.”

Ms. Gandhi complimented the Prime Minister on “his wise leadership,” on his “remaining calm amidst the storm,” and on “his unwavering devotion to the progress and prosperity of the nation.” She concluded saying, “the party stands solidly behind him in his endeavours.”

But even as the Congress president expressed her solidarity with him, it was more than evident that the issue of corruption, the 2G scam and the negative role of the Opposition in Parliament were on top of her mind. Devoting about half her speech to this issue, she repeated the party line that the 2G spectrum scam had been dealt with adequately through a CBI probe, a Supreme Court-monitored investigation, the PAC examining the Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report, and a one-man judicial inquiry.

Simultaneously, as she criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for its obstructive methods, Ms. Gandhi stressed that the Congress' record of dealing with corruption, “even when no charge has been established or misconduct proved,” was superior to that of the BJP-led NDA. The Congress had sacked Ministers and Chief Ministers — a reference to Shashi Tharoor, A. Raja and Ashok Chavan — pending enquiry. “Can the BJP make a similar claim in Karnataka where corruption is rampant?” She suggested that all political parties devise a mechanism to deal with corruption.

Moving to party matters, she said though the Congress' performance was abysmal in Bihar “there can be no room for despondency or demoralisation.” There was no option but to build the State unit “from scratch.”

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