Davangere: All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi on Monday flagged off the party’s Bharat Nirman rally ahead of the Lok Sabha elections by projecting her party as a symbol of stability, social harmony and development, as against its traditional rival Bharatiya Janata Party and the newly-emerging Third Front.
In a brief and somewhat lacklustre speech before a lakh-strong gathering in Davangere, which has a tradition of hosting political gatherings, she said that the Congress stood against forces such as the BJP which “conspire to break the unity of society” and sought votes on a “divisive agenda”. The Congress would project in its election campaign the “historic achievements” of the UPA government over its five-year rule on development schemes. Without referring to the Third Front directly, she pooh-poohed it as a “new morcha” which had no clarity. “The morcha has as many Prime Ministerial aspirants in it as there are parties under its banner,” she said. The Congress, she added, would provide a “stable and strong government”.
On the question of terrorism, she said that the Congress was serious about the issue, but it was not like the BJP who took “terrorists lodged in our jails like guests to Afghanistan”, referring to the Kandahar hijack episode.
On the political scenario in Karnataka, Ms. Gandhi said that the State, once known the world over as the Information Technology capital and an educational hub, was now in the news for the rise of forces which were shaking the fundamental rights of citizens. AICC secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, who accompanied Ms. Gandhi, said that the State had seen a sea change in the last 10 years. “Religion is used to show the right path to those who have lost their way. But here religion is used to make people go astray,” he said.
Despite their differences over seat selection, the State Congress put up a show of unity in Davangere with all senior leaders of the Congress present at the rally.
Film actor and MP Ambareesh did not attend the rally. This had set off speculation on whether Mr. Ambareesh, who is said to be in consultation with other parties, would remain in the Congress.