The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia says time’s up

New Delhi, May 8: Sonia Gandhi wound up her election campaign with a clarion call to oust the “nervous” BJP-led government and replace the NDA with a “responsive and responsible” Congress-led government.

“Enough is enough. Now is the time to change the government at the Centre and to create history. We have to create a new India,” said Sonia in her final rally before Monday’s polls at the Ram Lila Maidan, where she had sounded the bugle against the NDA at her first election meeting.

Sonia, who spoke for about 15 minutes, called for “concrete changes in Indian politics” and assailed the NDA government that had promised a “clean” administration but “indulged in largescale corruption”.

“What can be expected from those who took kickbacks in the purchase of coffins for our soldiers'” she asked the thousands of flag-waving supporters.

In an attempt to ensure that the anti-BJP votes are not split, Sonia stressed that this election was a direct fight between the BJP and a strong Congress. “If you want to make (the) BJP bite the dust, the Congress has to be made stronger,” she said, claiming that the BJP was in panic and looking for new allies as the NDA in its present form was not stable.

“The five years of NDA misrule had ignored people’s aspirations. It seems that this government is meant only for a few.… The fact is that there is rampant unemployment, price rise, suffering of farmers and other weaker sections,” she said.

Yet the government spent crores of rupees in “false propaganda of claims that India was shining and feeling good”.

She accused BJP leaders of shying away from taking responsibility for misdeeds while pointing out how Congress leaders had owned up to their mistakes. “But no one is held responsible in this government, no one is punished for misdeeds,” she said.

The Gujarat riots had unmasked the people running the NDA government as those with no qualms about destroying the social fabric in their quest to retain power.

The Congress president, who has been the target of personal attacks centred on her foreign origin, trained her guns on Atal Bihari Vajpayee, describing him as a person who seemed to have lost his way. “He says one thing today, another tomorrow and something else the day after. If one day he says the (NDA) coalition is strong, the next day he says he is tired of it,” Sonia said.

At an election meeting in Rajasthan recently, Vajpayee had appealed to the people to change the government at the Centre as they had changed the (Congress) state government in the last Assembly elections. “I don’t know why he said this, he would know that better. But as he is an elder leader, I welcome this statement,” she said with a smile.

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