Congress accuses RSS of terror links, dodges raging scams (Roundup)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Congress party Tuesday attacked the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) for its “involvement in terrorist activities” but studiously avoided all reference to two raging controversies - the Adarsh housing society scam and the corruption in the Commonwealth Games - at its special All India Congress Committee (AICC) meet here.

The AICC meet was addressed by party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, general secretary Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders and attended by around 1,200 delegates.

“Recent investigations indicate the involvement of RSS members in terrorist organisations,” a statement read out by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and approved amidst applause, said.

“Revelations through detailed investigations have exposed the true character of the RSS and its sister organisations. Communal and terrorist elements, whichever source they may originate from, that aim at destroying our national fabric will be fought at any cost,” the statement added.

In her address, Gandhi said: “The broader message for all of us is that our fight against communalism of all kinds, against fanaticism of all types, has to continue unabated.”

“This is a political struggle, a struggle for a secular India. The abuse of religion to inflame passion, stoke prejudice and polarise our society will be forcefully resisted by our party and government,” she added.

Regarding the Adarsh scam, not a single word was mentioned by the leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, the head of the party probe panel into the scandal.

In fact, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan whose role in the Adarsh housing scam is being probed by a two-member Congress panel, was seated on the dais. Party MP Suresh Kalmadi, facing allegations of corruption in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games, was seated in the front row.

When a former chief minister of Orissa, Hemanand Biswal, mentioned about the Commonwealth Games, there was expectation that he would touch upon the corruption issue. But Biswal limited his references to the demand for reservation for tribals in Delhi, who had worked for the Games projects in the national Capital.

The AICC meeting was convened Tuesday to fulfil the party’s constitutional obligation to elect members to the party working committee, the party’s highest decision-making body.

The meeting unanimously authorized Sonia Gandhi to nominate the CWC members and other office-bearers.

Since Sonia Gandhi became president of the party in 1998, elections to CWC have not been held.

In her inaugural remarks, Sonia Gandhi emphasized that the Congress respects its coalition partners in states but would also attempt to gain strength on its own and keep its “political space”.

“The party is in coalition in some states. We respect coalitions but that does not mean we will not work to gain strength or that we will leave our political space,” she said.

Pointing out that 10 states will go to assembly polls in next two years, Gandhi said the party has to work with dedication and unity for its victory in the polls.

Without mentioning Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, she praised his efforts at democratising the working of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).

Expressing concern over rising prices, Gandhi said the prices of food items needed to be brought down further and the responsibility for doing so also lay with the states.

Referring to opposition-ruled states, she said they have as much responsibility to check prices as the central government.

On the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute, she said it did not condone the demolition of the Babri Masjid and added that the perpetrators must be “brought to justice”.

In his address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will always try to ensure that economic development reaches the poorer and weaker sections of society.

“We want an economic development which is equitable,” he said, adding that the Congress-led UPA had in the last six and half years always looked after the welfare of the “aam aadmi (ordinary people)”, he said.

He praised the Congress president for her “dynamic” leadership.

Rahul Gandhi, who participated in the debate on the statement adopted at the meeting, said the empowerment of the poor will take the country forward and his party was striving to bridge the gap between those getting prosperous and those lagging behind.

Soon after the AICC session, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said the issues of corruption and scandals were not mentioned in the speeches and deliberations as it “was not in the agenda”.

“Not that corruption is not a major issue,” Singh added.

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