The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia vows to bring back ‘good old days’

Bhopal, April 25: Promising a return to the “good old days”, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today urged voters to bring the party back to power at the Centre and help the nation attain greater heights.

Buoyed by a large and responsive crowd at Lal Parade Ground, Sonia claimed that states ruled by her party were performing a lot better than the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime at the Centre.

“The present regime is so bad that nothing good is expected out of it,” Sonia told the rally organised by the Digvijay Singh government to showcase the cooperative movement in Madhya Pradesh.

Sonia said that since most laws and policies are framed by the Central government, voters would need to change the regime to enjoy the fruits of “good governance”. The AICC chief went on to add that the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were different as policies were framed keeping the larger public good and national interests in mind. “Today, we see many policies are framed keeping in view the party and narrow political considerations.”

The BJP — the Opposition party in Madhya Pradesh — hit back, saying Sonia was playing “politics” at a forum where the crowd was brought in government vehicles and many of them were even given travel, boarding and lodging allowances.

An unperturbed Sonia, however, continued: “Today, there is rampant corruption, unemployment and slowdown all over. It is eating the vitals of the nation,” she said, adding that farmers, women, youths and poorer sections of the society were the “worse sufferers”.

The Congress chief alleged that agriculture production was falling and farmers were not getting their dues. “Their back is broken. There is darkness all over,” she said.

Sonia said things would change once a “responsive and responsible” government replaces the current regime at the Centre. She said voters should judge the Congress by its performance in the 15 states ruled by the party.

Showering praise on Digvijay, Sonia said the “liberal and effective” laws framed in the state to strengthen the cooperative movement were being emulated in several states. “I have written to our party-ruled states to learn from Madhya Pradesh.”

Sonia, however, refrained from criticising the economic reforms or commenting on import of oil, sugar or foodgrain. She said the cooperative movement was important as it offered a “real alternative” to the people in the current economic scenario.

It would also bring greater social cohesiveness and check the rise of the forces of disintegration, she added.

Projecting Sonia as the future Prime Minister, veteran Congress leader Arjun Singh said it was just “a matter of time” before she took the reins of power at the Centre. “The people of India have made up their mind in her favour,” he said.

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