Divisive forces cannot fight terrorism: Sonia


New Delhi : Accusing the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party of not supporting the government in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday said those who want to divide society cannot fight terrorism. Addressing a massive gathering of the party’s district unit chiefs and grassroots workers here, Gandhi said that during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, “we had stood by the government during the terror attacks. But the same thing cannot be said about the BJP. They disturbed parliament, and delayed formation of important laws regarding fighting terrorism.”

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Making a reference to the BJP’s reiteration of commitment to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Gandhi said: “Those who want to divide society, create polarisation on the basis of religion and use the name of Lord Ram are against religion and cannot fight terrorism.”

She also had a message for Pakistan.

“Terrorism is a big challenge and I want to tell people across the border that they should not mistake our calmness as our weakness, they would be given a befitting answer. We have to fight this (terrorism) unitedly.”

She asked Congressmen to work unitedly for the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections slated for April-May.

“Whenever the Congress has lost, it is not only because of the opposition but because of internal disputes. We have to place the party before ourselves and work for the development and growth of society and country.”

Signalling how the party would use the youth cadre, she said: “Today we have to use the experience of senior leaders and the energy of youth. We have many youth in the party, many get the benefit of family background, but many do not. We have to provide opportunity to youth from every section of society.”

Detailing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s programmes during the past five years, she said workers must highlight these during the election campaign.

“Five years ago, we went to the people on the basis of our pledges. Now, we go to them on the strength of our performance. The aam admi (common man) has been the overriding force of our economic policy. We have worked towards the welfare of farmers, the empowerment of women and welfare of weaker sections.”

“We want people to reaffirm faith in the Congress. We are ready, we are prepared, we are confident,” Gandhi told the gathering at the Ramlila Ground.

Gandhi praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for showing “sagacity” and “wisdom” and prayed for his early recovery following a heart surgery.

“Let me first, on your behalf, greet our prime minister who is making steady progress, after his heart surgery,” Gandhi told thousands of party activists here.

“Manmohan Singh has led our government with sagacity and wisdom. He has brought credit to all of us by the dignified manner in which he has guided the Congress-led UPA government,” she said.

“We wish him speedy and complete recovery and look forward to him resuming office at the earliest.”

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan read out a message from Manmohan Singh.

“With elections around the corner, you are once again called upon to carry the party’s message and the government’s accomplishments to each and every voter throughout the country,” the prime minister said in his message.

“We can tell them with confidence that the Congress represents hope for the future,” he said in his message read out by Congress general secretary Prithviraj Chavan.

The entire Congress hierarchy at the centre and from the states, along with all chief ministers and central ministers, attended the meet.

District and block presidents of the Congress from all over the country also expressed their views, suggestions and problems that they face at the ground level.

The congress workers also took a pledge, ‘Sankalp 2009’, reaffirming their faith in the party’s ideology, democracy, secularism and equality and justice.

The party workers pledged that they will remain fully dedicated to philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and said they will fight against forces that undermine fundamental human values.

“Now we should start working with full dedication and determination for the elections. We have a lot of work to do. We have to go to people to seek a fresh mandate. It’s a big test and it’s up to us how we pass the test,” Gandhi said.