Sonia Gandhi kick-starts campaign in Himachal Pradesh, slams BJP

Congress president Sonia Gandhi kick-started the party`s election campaign in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of doublespeak on corruption.

Mandi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday kick-started the poll campaign in Himachal Pradesh with a scathing attack on the BJP-led government and accused it of not making any efforts to take the benefits of Central schemes to the poor and needy in the state.

Addressing a rally here, Gandhi said Central funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore allocated to the state had lapsed last year as the BJP government did not make adequate efforts to implement various Central schemes in the state.

"There is a difference between the promises and actual work of the BJP," she said and charged that the saffron party was only pretending to fight corruption and rising prices and did little efforts on the ground.

"These people (BJP) are taking big about tackling corruption when they themselves are deep into it. Their fight against corruption is just a show off. Before raising a finger against corruption they should introspect," she said.

Gandhi said it was a matter of shame that corruption had afflicted the system of governance and said only the Congress party had made attempts to tackle it head on by implementing the Right to Information law.

"Who brought the RTI Act? Did the BJP enact it? It was the UPA which brought the RTI Act to tackle corruption," she said.

Elections to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly are scheduled to be held on November 04.

Gandhi sought to defend the recent hike in diesel prices contending that it was inevitable because of the increase in international crude prices.

The UPA chairperson, however, pointed out that Congress-ruled states had reduced VAT on diesel to cushion the impact of the diesel price hike, a move which was lacking in the BJP-ruled states.

Gandhi said UPA had taken efforts to remove corruption by getting the Lokpal Bill passed in Lok Sabha, but it was stalled in Rajya Sabha by the BJP.

"It (BJP) is not against corruption but against Congress," she claimed.

Referring to rise in prices of essential commodities, she said it was a matter of deep concern but India could not remain insulated from global trends.

She criticised the BJP government for opposing FDI in multi-brand retail and said it would benefit farmers whose products would directly reach the market.

"It is for the states to allow or not to allow FDI in retail but it is in the interest of both the growers and consumers who would get commodities at reasonable prices," she said.

The AICC president said the UPA government had accepted one-rank-one-pension for armed personnel and also hiked the pension of ex-servicemen, doubled the wages of Anganwadi workers and helpers, and waived off loans of farmers.

Besides, it has given employment to rural people under MNREGA, free education to all children in age group of 6-14 years under RTE and helped thousands of women through self help groups, she said.

HPCC president Virbhadra Singh, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, Senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes and former HPCC chief Kaul Singh were present at the rally.


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