Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

Sonia to Advani Over Corruption
Do introspection first before pointing finger

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has dismissed main opposition BJP's projections of a mid-term parliamentary polls and asked the saffron party to do some introspection on corruption within it instead of levelling allegations against her party.

A day after BJP chief L K Advani told a party convention in Mumbai that the UPA coalition government led by Congress would collapse sooner than expected due to internal contradictions, Sonia, in interviews to two separate TV news channels, said "I don't see this happening."

"I think we went into this coalition consciously. We worked together with Common Minimum Programme and later on with legislations," she said adding the UPA government would complete its five-year tenure.

On Advani's charge that Congress was the fountain head of corruption, she said "I don't think they have any moral right to say anything (on corruption). They should first introspect and look within."

On corruption among some members of Parliament, which recently came to light leading to expulsion of 11 MPs, Sonia said "it was painful. I think people in public life must understand their responsibility and be more accountable".

She refuted allegations that there were two separate power centres in the government and described her relations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as "perfect".

Those who talk about two power centres "don't know what they are talking about. The Prime Minister and I are in regular communication. We share a strong relationship and I have full faith in him", the Congress chief said.

"I think he (Manmohan Singh) has done a fine job, I have no complaints against him whatsoever. My only complaint with Dr Singh is that he sometimes does not highlight his achievements enough", she said.

Asked if former foreign minister Natwar Singh, who quit in the wake of UN report over Iraqi oil-for-food scam, would be taken back into the ministry if a probe into the issue, gave him a clean chit, Sonia said "I don't discuss hypothetical questions".

On pressures from Left parties and UPA government constituent RJD, she said she did not think it would impact on the stability of the government. "Which government does not have pressures?........You have to make certain adjustments from time to time. This does not mean that the government does not function."