Advani was weak in fighting terror: Sonia (Lead)

April 7th, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Karimnagar (Andhra Pradesh), April 7 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday criticised L.K. Advani for dubbing Manmohan Singh a weak prime minister, saying it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who displayed weakness as home minister and deputy prime Minister.
Gandhi taunted the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful for handing over dreaded terrorists to hijackers in Afghanistan in December 1999.

Addressing three election meetings in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress president said the party cannot be accused of being soft on terror as its leaders Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had laid down their lives while fighting the menace.

“He (Advani) considers himself to be brave on the issue of terrorism but as the home minister and deputy prime minister he gave a send-off to dreaded terrorists as guests and the same terrorists carried out attacks on our parliament and in various parts of the country. The same person is today accusing us of being soft,” she said addressing a mammoth public meeting in Vijayanagaram in north coastal Andhra.

“The same former home minister has dreams of becoming prime minister. He has every right to dream but our dream is different. The dream of the Congress party is to see faster development of India make all citizens - irrespective of religion, region and caste - partners in this development,” she said.

Defending Manmohan Singh, she said he was a strong leader and a man of integrity.

“You have a choice to make. On one side you have a prime minister who is a man of integrity and on the other side a BJP leader who talks of fighting terror but you know what happened during his rule. He is making baseless allegations against our PM,” she told the first public meeting in Karimnagar in Telangana region.

After listing out the achievement of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, she said some people still see something lacking. “Such people see even a serious problem like terrorism from the glasses of communalism,” she remarked.

“Perhaps for him (Advani) a strong leader is one during whose tenure as home minister and as deputy PM, parliament was attacked and dangerous terrorists were taken out from jails and sent to Afghanistan,” Gandhi said.

“For us a strong leader is one who does not make tall claims but does great work. It is a matter of pride that after the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, our government mounted diplomatic pressure on Pakistan and as a result Pakistan owned up the truth,” she added.

The UPA chairperson also trained her guns on the state’s main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the ‘third front’, saying they cheated people time and again.

“You have to decide for the next five years in which direction the country and Andhra Pradesh should go,” she said, seeking another term for the Congress both in the state and at the centre.

She listed out the achievements of the Congress during its long history and the steps taken by the UPA government, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, waiver of farmers’ loans, the mid-day meal scheme, scholarships to students of weaker sections and the India-US nuclear deal.

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