New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi is unhappy over the way the lower rung party leadership has responded to the coal block allocation charges by the BJP and wants the party to brace for the larger political battle ahead and to fight BJP`s propaganda, sources close to her said.
"Gandhi is unhappy over the way the party`s lower rung leadership (secretaries) has responded to the coal blocks allocation charges by the BJP... She wants the party to fight out the opposition`s propaganda down to the village level," a member of the Congress Working Committee, the party`s highest decision-making body told a news agency, requesting anonymity while speaking.
This, said the leader, is the reason behind Gandhi`s recent aggressive stances against the BJP, both inside and outside Parliament as she has sensed that the opposition party wants the Parliament logjam over the issue to spill over the monsoon session ending Sep 7.
"The party workers at the local level have to be energised for the political fight with the BJP. Hence, Gandhi`s aggressive stance," he said.
The Comptroller and Auditor General`s report alleged private players made windfall gains to the tune of Rs 1.85 lakh crore in allocation of coal blocks by the UPA government. The BJP has not allowed parliament to function for the past two weeks over the CAG report and has demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s resignation as he had held the coal portfolio in UPA-I.
According to Congress leaders, the BJP is stalling parliament in an attempt to precipitate a mid-term poll, which could revive its fortunes.
The BJP has vowed to take the matter to the streets to score political points, and Gandhi wants the Congress to launch a counter attack.
"The BJP has made blackmail the bread and butter of their political strategy," Gandhi said during an address to the Congress Parliamentary Party. "We need to fight the intemperate criticism and negative politics of the BJP. They are holding Parliament to ransom."
Another CWC member said that there "is a limit to Gandhi`s patience".
"The BJP cannot continue to level allegations against us and play the judge...in case of an alleged wrong doing, a process decides the future course of action, not a political party," he told the news agency.
According to Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, the CAG report is being used by the BJP to create "a spectre of toxicity" in the country.
"The only antidote to it is the warm glow of truth which has to be spread aggressively to counter this vicious contagion," Tewari told the agency.
Nisar-ul Haq, who teaches political science in the Jamia Millia Islamia University, said the BJP will not gain if it takes the coal blocks issue to the streets.
"People want clarity on the issue which can come only through a debate in parliament...people will note that the BJP is not letting that happen," Haq told the agency.
"But the Congress` response to the allegation too has not been convincing," he said.
The next general elections are due in 2014, but ahead of that the Congress would be locked in a direct fight with the BJP in assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in November this year and in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi besides four northeastern states in 2013.