New Delhi: With the party and the government battling one controversy after another, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday expressed concern over seemingly widespread corruption and declared that there would be "absolutely no tolerance" for corruption and misconduct.
"It is a painful fact that corruption seems to be widespread and I feel strongly that it is our responsibility as well as that of each and every political party to together, seriously, devise a way- a mechanism to curb this growing menace," Gandhi said.
Her remarks were signficant as they came at the end of the month long winter session which saw the longest shutdown of Parliament over the Opposition demand for JPC to probe the 2G Spectrum allocation scam, a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government.
Gandhi said "Congress has always stood for transparency and probity. And we have made it clear that there will be absolutely no tolerance for corruption or misconduct. Even when no charge has been established or no misconduct has been proved, we have asked ministers and chief ministers to step down, pending enquiry."
Her reference was obviously to the removal of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shashi Tharoor as Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of the IPL Kochi controversy.
Seeking to dismiss the Opposition`s charge that the government was not agreeing to JPC as it had something to hide, she said, "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," she said.
Complimenting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his "wise leadership" and declaring that the party "stands solidly behind him", she made a veiled attack on the opposition`s plan to summon the Prime Minister in case the government had yielded to the demand for a JPC.
"Nor should we do anything that will denigrate the institution of the Prime Minister. We cannot sacrifice institutions at the altar of political expediency", Gandhi said.
Stepping up the attack on the BJP on the issue of corruption, Gandhi said, "Can the BJP make the same claim in Karnataka where corruption is rampant? Let us not forget that it was during the BJP-led NDA that a senior minister resigned after the defence scam was exposed but was re-instated even as the inquiry was underway.
"And what about some of the leaders in the same party caught in camera taking money and later rehabilitated? The list is endless," she said in an obvious reference to former BJP President Bangaru Laxman.