Sonia cautions Karnataka voters against fractured mandate

May 8th, 2008 - 12:01 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Bangalore, May 7 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday cautioned the electorate in Karnataka against giving a fractured mandate again in the state assembly election that gets underway Saturday in the first phase. “As responsible citizens, I am sure you will not make the mistake of giving a fractured verdict again in this election,” Gandhi told a mammoth crowd of about 8,000 people at an election rally in K.R. Puram grounds on the outskirts of the city.

“You all have seen the result of such a mandate in the last four years, leading to instability and power struggle by other parties,” Gandhi told the rally.

Referring to the 20-month Janata Dal-Secular-Bharatiya Janata Party (JD-S-BJP) alliance government and the collapse of the week-old BJP-led government subsequently, Gandhi said as a progressive state Karnataka ranked first in the country on the development front under the Congress regime 1999-2004.

“Under our party’s rule, the state’s financial position was sound enough to give surplus budgets every fiscal. Later, you have seen what happened to governance and development programmes when other parties came to power by forming unholy alliances and squabbling for the throne,” Gandhi said in Hindi, reading out from a written script.

Seeking a clear mandate in favour of her party to form a stable government, Gandhi said it was imperative for the wheel of development to roll on as demonstrated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre.

“The UPA government, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has launched several pro-poor, pro-farmer, pro-worker, pro-tribal and pro-women schemes for empowering them economically and make them part of inclusive growth. We will replicate the success of such central schemes in Karnataka too when you elect our party to power,” Gandhi noted.

Refuting the BJP’s allegations that the Congress and the UPA government had gone soft on terrorism, Gandhi reminded the audience that it was during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that the terror attacks on parliament and the Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad took place.

“We need not take lessons from a party whose leader, as the country’s external affairs minister (Jaswant Singh), escorted terrorists to Afghanistan in December 1999 and failed to prevent terror attacks on the temple of democracy (parliament) and places of worship (Akshardham). We are committed to check the menace of terrorism and are doing everything to prevent such elements in the country,” she asserted.

Gandhi also reminded the people of the UPA government’s social and economic programmes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, mid-day meal scheme, health insurance schemes for farmers and subsidised food grain for below-poverty-line (BPL) families.

“Our assurances will not remain on paper. We are implementing each of them. The benefits will also reach the people of Karnataka,” Gandhi added.

Incidentally, the party’s state unit did not arrange for a simultaneous translation of Gandhi’s 20-minute speech in Kannada, leading to protests by a section of the crowd.

The communication gap and the over two-hour delay in her arrival for the public meeting made people restive on a hot summer evening with many leaving the venue even as Gandhi was midway through her speech.

The party’s state unit president Mallikarjun Kharge, former chief minister S.M. Krishna, former union ministers Jaffer Sharief and M.V. Rajashekaran and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chauhan were present on the occasion.

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