Congress party president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday rapped social activist Anna Hazare without taking any names, in a speech read out on her behalf at Gauchar in the hilly Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
She was to have come in person to inaugurate her party’s poll campaign, but could not do so due to fever. It would have been her first public rally after undergoing surgery in America some time earlier for an undisclosed ailment.
In her speech, she attacked Hazare’s group for making a lot of sound on a Lok Pal legislation when the government had already publicly committed to bring an effective and strong Bill.
“Corruption cannot be eradicated by merely making speeches or by pointing a finger at others,” she said. "Everyone needs to look within... You cannot eradicate corruption like this, that one thinks corruption by us is a holy affair, while that by others amounts to corruption," she said in an obvious reference to Team Anna, some of whose members are facing allegations of financial misconduct.
Far from the conciliatory stand that Gandhi has had in the past regarding Hazare, her speech on Wednesday was combative. “The bill will be presented in Parliament and we will implement it. Then why this hue and cry?” she asked.
Putting on record the origin of the Lokpal bill, she said it was first broached by her and the National Advisory Council she heads. On rising prices, Gandhi said, “It is hitting the common man hard and the government must take steps that provide relief” but stressed that “it can happen only with the support of both the central and state governments”.
Besides addressing the rally, she had been scheduled to unveil the foundation stone of a 125-km Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail line. She sent defence minister A K Antony as her representative. Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi was present.