Sonia hits out at Team Anna, commits Lokpal (Roundup)

November 9th, 2011 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Chamoli (Uttarakhand)/New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday hit out at Team Anna and said the party and the UPA government were committed to a strong anti-corruption ombudsman (Lokpal). Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal expressed hope the bill would be passed in the winter session of parliament.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Gandhi’s comments “reflects their views”.

Welcoming Sonia’s statement, read out in absentia in Chamoli (Uttarakhand), Kejriwal expressed hope “the Congress would keep its word and pass the legislation in the winter session starting Nov 22″.

Hitting out at Team Anna for threatening another agitation on the Lokpal bill, Sonia Gandhi said “Corruption cannot be fought by speeches, so I don’t understand why this noise.”

She also reminded Team Anna that “It was the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by me which had first started public consultations for a Lokpal”.

The speech was read out at a function to lay the foundation stone of a new rail line at Gauchar in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

“You also know that prime minister has said, our party has repeatedly said that we are in favour of an effective, strong Lokpal bill. The bill will be presented in the parliament and we will implement it. I feel what is the need of making so much hue and cry,” Gandhi said.

She also said that corruption cannot be erased by only finger pointing at one another, but people have to “look within”.

“There is a lot of talk on corruption these days. There is no doubt that corruption is a big disease and is prevalent in some way at every level. There is need to build atmosphere against it. Corruption cannot be eradicated by mere talk, it cannot be eradicated by only raising fingers at one another. Every one will have to look within,” Gandhi said.

This is the first time the Congress chief has spoken in detail on the issue.

Gandhi, 64, who was supposed to address a rally in Chamoli, her first since returning after a surgery abroad for an undisclosed ailment in August, called off the visit after she developed fever.

In her place, Defence Minister A.K. Antony laid the foundation stone.

The rally was being seen as the launch of the Congress’s campaign for the upcoming assembly polls in 2012 in the BJP ruled state.

The Congress president is a star campaigner and the party is banking heavily on her crowd-pulling abilities in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand going to the polls next year.

Reacting to Gandhi’s statement, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said: “I think she has read out a statement from BJP, which has been saying this.”

“The UPA chairperson should tell the nation what are the steps taken by her, her government and her party against corruption,” he added.

India Against Corruption (IAC), run by Team Anna, welcomed Gandhi’s commitment on Lokpal.

Kejriwal wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter: “We sincerely hope the government would honour her commitment of getting a strong and effective Lokpal during the winter session. Mere speeches would not be enough from the government’s side,” he added.

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