“Abuse of religion to inflame passion” will be resisted: Sonia

A combative Congress trained its guns on members of the sangh parivar for their part in alleged acts of terror and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and on the Opposition-ruled States for not sincerely implementing the Centrally sponsored social welfare schemes, while underscoring the United Progressive Alliance government's positive role in the service of the ‘aam aadmi.'

But right through the over three-hour deliberations of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) here on Tuesday, not a single speaker referred to the allegations of financial irregularities in the recently conducted Commonwealth Games (CWG) or the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai.

A string of patriotic songs — Bankimchandra's Bande Mataram, Iqbal's Saare Jehan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara, Tagore's Ekla Chalo Re and one of Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajans — set the mood, even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were kept in sharp focus, with praise showered on the first two for strengthening the party and Dr. Singh for his key role in steering the Indian economy safely through a period of global economic slowdown.

But the fact that the protagonists of the recent controversies were very much in evidence at the newly furbished Talkatora Stadium did not escape the notice of the delegates. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was on the podium with the top leadership, while CWG Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi was seated prominently off stage.

In a frontal attack on the sangh parivar, Ms. Gandhi, in her opening speech, said: “The abuse of religion to inflame passion, stoke prejudice and polarise our society” would be “forcefully resisted,” while those who had participated in the “shameful, criminal act” of demolishing the Babri Masjid must be brought to justice, the last an oblique reference to senior BJP leaders who have been arraigned in the CBI case. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who piloted an AICC statement on current affairs, went a step further, saying: “Detailed investigations have exposed the true character of the RSS and its sister organisations” and the “involvement of its members in terrorist activities.”

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