The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia in code sermon
- Sting cloud hangs heavy over House, Congress chief preaches honesty to MPs

New Delhi, Dec. 22: Congress president Sonia Gandhi today expressed anguish at the money-for-posers expos' and told her MPs to pull up their socks.

Addressing the general body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party on the penultimate day of the winter session, Sonia said the episode had “damaged the public image and standing” of Parliament.

She urged her MPs to follow “in letter and spirit” the code of ethics to “prevent a conflict of interest”.

The Congress president, who directed the MPs to disclose their assets and wealth with honesty, also pointed out the “widespread impression” that funds under the MP local area development (MPLAD) scheme were not being used properly.

“I know many of you are using these funds well, but it is now up to all of us individually and collectively to dispel mistaken notions of large-scale misuse,” she said.

Sonia reminded the MPs that while the last 18 months of the UPA government have been marked by several policy and programme announcements, it was time to move into a “period of consolidation” in which the government and the party would be judged not by intent but by performance.

She said the “good” work done by the government should be used for the party’s political advantage. “This will only happen if we are well informed about government programmes, we take an active interest in their implementation and monitoring and if we are in communication with party workers regularly.”

According to Congress sources, the reference to “political advantage” was overdue, with the growing public perception that the Left alone had projected the UPA government’s major social sector initiatives as “fruits” of their labour.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke in the same vein as he exhorted the Congress-ruled states to ensure “proper implementation and planning” of the UPA government’s various programmes.

The Prime Minister asked the MPs to act as watchdogs and custodians of these programmes. He added that it was necessary to carry the message of the programmes across the country.

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