The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong erupts over slur on Sonia

New Delhi, Oct. 19: Seething with anger, Congress Working Committee members today expressed outrage and condemned Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Pravin Togadia for using obnoxious language against Sonia Gandhi at a rally in Gujarat.

Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Natwar Singh and other members of the CWC said they were stunned and dismayed over Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s failure to rein in Togadia.

“We appeal to all saner elements to come forward and condemn Togadia in the strongest of terms. It is unfortunate that the political masters of the group represented by Togadia have not condemned it. The entire political community should rise to the occasion,” Manmohan, Pranab and R.K. Dhawan said.

The women’s wing of the Congress’ Gujarat unit has demanded Togadia’s immediate arrest for reportedly calling Sonia names at a rally in Lodia village of Bhuj district on Friday.

In an unprecedented move, the committee met in Sonia’s absence today and decided to go all out against Togadia. CWC members said they had kept ignoring Togadia but yesterday he crossed all limits of decency.

“Here is a man who has been given Z-plus security by the ministry of home affairs under Advani. Why is Advani keeping mum'” an angry Ahmad Patel, political secretary to Sonia, asked.

Manmohan said there was a pressing need to check Togadia as Assembly polls in Gujarat were round the corner. “If state elections are to be held in this manner, it would vitiate the entire political climate,” he said, adding that never before in national politics have such degrading and outrageous remarks been made against a national leader.

Arjun said Togadia’s remarks against Sonia exhibited the Sangh parivar’s continuous efforts to lower and debase the level of national dialogue by injecting vulgarity into it. Statements condemning Togadia’s outburst kept pouring in from all states.

All India Congress Committee secretary Satyajit Gaikwad said political decency prevented the Congress from teaching Togadia a lesson. “What he has said has brought a blot to Hinduism, its culture and ethos,” he added.

Another member, Ahmad Patel, said in Hinduism, women were considered divine. He added that the self-claimed champion of Hindutva was bringing shame to every Gujarati.

Condemning the language used by Togadia, CWC members said: “The type of language being used day in and day out by people like Togadia amounts to debasing our political culture, which is a cause of serious worry.”

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