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Sonia tries to nail defeatism

- Pep talk and unity message before Lokpal battle

New Delhi, Dec. 21: Sonia Gandhi today told the Congress, besieged by Team Anna and a belligerent Opposition, not to be “defeatist” as the pro-poor programmes and the government’s achievements were good enough to counter the negative propaganda.

Addressing the Congress parliamentary party after a long time, Sonia rubbished speculation about differences between the party and the government.

Soon after the meeting, Sonia was asked by the media about the next round of fight with Team Anna and she responded: “I am always ready for a fight.”

On persistent suggestions of the party-government divide which last surfaced during the FDI-in-retail controversy, Sonia said: “Every now and then, our political opponents have been trying to create an impression that there are differences between the Congress party and the government. Let me once and for all nail this. There may well be differing points of view. But whatever is eventually done is done together.” Congress MPs who attended the meeting came away with a feeling that Sonia is not feeling dejected like many other party colleagues and is banking on an assessment that people are more concerned about livelihood and development than corruption.

She asked party leaders to go to the people to talk about the government’s schemes and make the Food Security Bill the “central part of our political campaign”.

“Friends, I cannot see any reason for us to be defeatist. On the contrary, we have every reason to be satisfied with what we have achieved. What seems to be lacking is a more effective effort by both the party and the government in communicating and propagating our accomplishments. Our policies and programmes have unquestionably given our people the ability to improve their lives,” she told her party MPs.

Without naming Anna Hazare or the BJP, Sonia said: “The Opposition may be loud but it is opportunistic. Logic and merit are lost in their obstructionist tactics. Our programmes are productive, our policies are correct. In a democracy, there are always some give and take. But our direction is clear and we must move forward. Let us fight the forces out to destabilise us, forces who never accepted the verdict of 2004 and 2009.”

The Congress president is clearly trying to link the BJP and Team Anna without specifying the “forces of destabilisation”.

While she attacked the BJP by name for trying to “derail the legislative agenda”, the reference was clearly to Team Anna when she said “we are being criticised and attacked for not tackling the scourge of corruption. This is deliberate and malicious misinformation”.

Sonia’s thrust appears to have touched a raw nerve in Team Anna. Soon after, Kiran Bedi posted a tweet dripping sarcasm: “The bill is not path breaking but breaking the path. Thank you Sonia G.”

Sonia, recalling the steps to check money-laundering and controlling bribery, pointed out that bills on protecting whistleblowers, grievance redress and judicial accountability were being brought in Parliament.