The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia armour for Arjun battle

New Delhi, Aug. 21: With Sonia Gandhi taking the lead, the Congress today endorsed Arjun Singh’s ideological and political offensive against the RSS and the BJP.

Amid its attack on the RSS’ ideological challenge and the BJP’s political threat, the Congress positioned itself as the pivot around which a secular alternative could emerge in an era of coalition politics.

At today’s AICC session, the party recognised that the “changing political conditions in the country have steered politics towards the inevitability of coalitions for the foreseeable future”. Until now, the Congress had maintained that coalitions were necessary, but only temporarily.

A common resolution on political, economic and international affairs adopted at the session underlined the success and stability of the United Progressive Alliance.

It said the alliance was a national imperative in the light of six years of “political fraud” by the BJP, which had unsuccessfully tried to camouflage its RSS-directed agenda through the National Democratic Alliance.

As leaders led by Sonia, Arjun and defence minister Pranab Mukherjee attacked the RSS and the BJP virtually right through the day, the resolution also nudged UPA allies and supporters to act constructively to ensure the coalition’s success.

The resolution said the common minimum programme was the coalition’s guiding principle, but pointed out that only the Congress had an all-India presence among the allies.

To maintain the comfort level of the partners in a coalition that has constraints and compulsions, “partners cannot overlook the need for a spirit of honest accommodation and the constant knowledge that the alternative to our collective success may be disastrous,” the resolution said.

As she opened the session, Sonia said the Congress had adjusted smoothly to coalition politics, even though it was a new experience.

If Sonia said there would be no let-up in the ideological and political battle against the RSS-BJP, Mukherjee elaborated on the political aspect of the fight as he moved the resolution.

The defence minister recalled instances of the BJP’s “disruptive attitude” in Parliament, beginning with its disruption of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s customary introduction of the council of ministers. Mukherjee said the BJP must be defeated.

The stage was set for Arjun, who began a “detoxification” campaign against the Sangh parivar in his human resource development ministry. As he seconded the resolution, Arjun did not name the RSS, but there was no doubting who he was referring to as he spoke of the “killers of Mahatma Gandhi”.

The AICC resolution endorsed the common minimum programme’s economic agenda and re-affirmed its foreign policy.

Foreign minister K. Natwar Singh also seconded the resolution, but expressed concern over continuing terrorism, abetted from across the border.

The document also stressed that inter-state water disputes must be urgently resolved.

Natwar, who blamed the NDA government for alleged ad hocism towards Pakistan, said a dialogue would continue with Islamabad even though Delhi needed to be vigilant about cross-border terrorism.

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