The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia prays for rain-swept win

New Delhi, May 8: With an eye on the Assembly elections due in drought-prone Congress-ruled states in November, Sonia Gandhi today prayed for a good monsoon.

Sonia made her remarks at an end-session meeting of the Congress parliamentary party where she reminded MPs of the challenges facing them. It is widely thought that a good monsoon could stem anti-incumbency feelings in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and brighten the party’s chances of retaining power.

Referring to meteorological forecasts of poor rain, the Congress chief said: “The whole country will have its fingers crossed over the next few weeks, praying that the monsoon is normal overall and well-distributed.”

She was confident the party could overcome the so-called anti-incumbency factor. “Our governments have solid achievements to their credit. These have to be well-projected. We must succeed and we will,” she said.

Sonia cautioned partymen about the BJP’s attempts to “divert attention away from basic issues of governance and development” by preaching bigotry. She said the Prime Minister had himself sought to win the recent Himachal Pradesh polls by communalising the campaign.

Referring to VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s trishul distribution, Sonia urged her party to guard against attempts to disturb peace and harmony.

The Congress chief said the next conclave of party chief ministers would be held soon. She expressed satisfaction that the party had successfully exposed the A.B. Vajpayee government’s failures on all fronts, especially employment generation.

Sonia attacked the Centre for failing to get the women’s reservation Bill passed. She also criticised it for passing the tobacco prohibition Bill despite Congress protests.

The party chief spoke of the scandals that had taken place during Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister, terming the recent Delhi Development Authority scam as “shocking”.

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