The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP launches graft campaign against Cong

New Delhi, April 10: Stung by Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s corruption charges against the BJP, the party went on the offensive today and announced it had directed all its state units to compile graft cases — past and present — against Congress Prime Ministers and Cabinet and state ministers.

BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra said the “charges” against the Congress will also include the observations and directives issued by investigating and monitoring agencies like the CBI, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Lok Ayukta and the Lok Pal. “All these would be placed before the people,” he said.

At a rally in Delhi on March 30, Sonia had said the NDA government was most successful on one front — corruption. “It is a government of scandals. PSUs have been sold at throwaway prices. Scams have taken place even in the purchase of coffins for jawans,” she said.

Terming Sonia’s charges as “sweeping and generalised”, Malhotra said no chargesheet has yet been filed against a BJP minister nor was there an advisory or directives from investigating and monitoring agencies.

“Ministers had to resign on corruption charges in Congress-ruled states. There are not just charges but also chargesheets against Congress ministers in scores,” he alleged.

In an apparent reference to the charge of “antique theft” made against Sonia by Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy, Malhotra said Delhi High Court had ordered the CBI to submit its report within three months.

The BJP spokesman took exception to the Rajasthan government’s ban on carrying trishuls, but maintained that his party had nothing to do with the VHP’s trishul distribution, which was the ostensible trigger for the government’s move.

Malhotra maintained the trishul is not a lethal weapon like an AK-47. “If people were allowed to carry knives and scissors, which can hurt, what is the logic against a small, four-inch trishul'” he asked.

The BJP leader remarked Aurangzeb had proscribed Hindus from applying a tilak, which resembled a trident on their forehead. “That was a symbolic gesture but Gehlot (Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot) has done something similar.”

The BJP also announced the setting up of a 12-member election management committee for Madhya Pradesh, the poll campaign for which is under the charge of general secretary Sanjay Joshi and Union minister Arun Jaitley.

The committee, which includes Central ministers Vikram Verma, Sumitra Mahajan and S.N. Jatiya, excluded Madhya Pradesh’s former chief minister Kailash Joshi. Sources said the Joshi made no bones about his reservations on the projection of Uma Bharti as the chief ministerial candidate and has been saying that the chief ministership issue was still “wide open”.

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