Taking forward her resolve to take corruption head on, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written letters to Union Ministers and state chief ministers asking them to give up their discretionary powers especially in land allotment issues.
Ms. Gandhi on Saturday also held a meeting of party general secretaries and asked them to start preparations to hold block level campaigns against NDA on the issue of corruption.
Her letter to the Union Ministers and chief ministers is a follow up of her appeal made to them during the party’s Plenary session on December 19.
Ms. Gandhi, who prescribed a four-point action plan to battle corruption in the Plenary had also asked party chief ministers and central ministers to relinquish discretionary powers in land allotment, declaring that “we must take corruption head-on”.
She said there was “ample evidence” that all discretionary powers, particularly in land allocation, breed corruption. “I would like all Congress chief ministers and ministers both at the Centre and the States to set an example by reviewing and relinquishing powers.”
Ms. Gandhi’s observations on corruption had come in the wake of the party facing mounting attack from the Opposition on issues like Adarsh Housing Society Scam, Commonwealth Games mess and the 2G Spectrum issue.
Sources said that the letter, which was sent to the ministers and the Chief Ministers more than a week back, has also begun eliciting responses. A number of ministers have already replied to the letter.
In his reply, Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid is learnt to have said that no discretionary powers are being exercised by him or his ministry.
In the meeting of General Secretaries that lasted for one hour, Ms. Gandhi asked them to ensure that simplicity and austerity are adhered to by Congressmen in states where they are in the government or in the opposition. Except Rahul Gandhi, all other general secretaries were present at the meeting.
Ms. Gandhi is learnt to have told them to ensure that there is no extravagance in party programmes in the states and that simplicity be reflected from the life of party leaders and those in government.
At the Plenary, Ms. Gandhi had said, “Simplicity, restraint and austerity must be our chosen way. We cannot make this a law. But in a country where poverty is still widespread, let us at least have moral sensibility to avoid vulgar displays of wealth and waste“.
Ms. Gandhi also reminded the party general secretaries to work for setting up of monitoring committees in the state for regulating the implementation of the Centre’s flagship programmes.