|Sonia Gandhi with
Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy (left) at Thiruvananthapuram airport on Sunday. (PTI)
Sept. 29: Sonia Gandhi today lauded the Manmohan Singh government’s welfare policies, her remarks sparking speculation she was reaching out to the Prime Minister after son Rahul’s attack on the cabinet-approved ordinance on convicted legislators.
“The UPA government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singhji, has lifted millions out of poverty through our social welfare schemes,” Sonia said while inaugurating a training centre for party workers in Thiruvananthapuram.
Congress sources have said Sonia spoke to Singh twice on Saturday after Rahul had publicly dismissed the ordinance as “nonsense”, and assured him the entire party was behind him.
Later, she apparently forced Rahul to write the Prime Minister a polite letter that sought to underline that the responsibility for the ordinance was not the government’s alone.
“I realise that what I feel about the ordinance is not in harmony with the cabinet decision and the core group’s view,” Rahul wrote, underscoring the party’s role in the ordinance being approved.
In New Delhi, senior Congress leaders and ministers continued their silence on the sensitive matter but middle-rung party leaders defended Rahul.
“Rahul Gandhi had not even mentioned the name of the Prime Minister: he had only expressed his views regarding the ordinance. He did not even ask the government to withdraw it,” Rashid Alvi said.
Sonia, who arrived in the Kerala capital this afternoon, had three events to attend. She mentioned the Prime Minister again at the unveiling of the state government’s project to provide free treatment to under-18 students at its hospitals.
“I’m extremely happy that the (state) government is giving predominant importance to the health sector. It is introducing an ambitious health scheme for expanding health coverage,” she told the gathering.
“In this landmark project, which will be implemented with the assistance of the UPA government under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singhji, the state will bear the treatment expenses of all children….”
Amid the fire-fight within the party, Congress leaders hit out at Narendra Modi who launched a scathing attack on both Singh and Rahul today.
“Narendra Modi has put forth his views even on what Pakistani reporters have to say. This is anti-national and we condemn it,” Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said.
Modi had, apparently on the basis of a Pakistani journalist’s comments, accused Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif of comparing Singh to a village woman-and deemed this an “insult” to India and its Prime Minister.
Alvi chided Modi for “denigrating” the Prime Minister while he was on foreign soil.
He said that in his desperation to become Prime Minister, Modi was “misguiding” the country. He accused the Gujarat chief minister of ignoring people who were battling floods in his state.
“Narendra Modi is misguiding the country. So much greed for power and the Prime Minister’s post is not good,” Alvi said.