OTHERS

NDA has brought down India's importance: Sonia

RAIPUR, NOV. 1. The Congress president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, said today that the world was swayed by hatred and revenge which challenged the sovereignty and integrity of many countries.

She said terrorism had vitiated the atmosphere globally and added that communal harmony and unity was the need of the hour while referring to the developments after the terrorist attacks on America on September 11.

She was speaking at a public meeting organised here to mark the first anniversary of Chhatisgarh. Ms. Gandhi attended several functions here though her day-long visit had to be cut short late last night following the death of the former diplomat, Mr. B. K. Nehru, a close relative.

Launching a scathing attack on the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, Ms. Gandhi said the wrong policies of the Vajpayee Government had deprived India of a separate identity in the world, which it used to have during a global crisis. ``Whenever the world was faced with grave challenges, India used to have an important role to play. It is for the first time that our country does not have a say,'' she said.

Accusing the Vajpayee Government of being corrupt, Ms. Gandhi said not only corruption was rampant but those involved in corrupt practices were being promoted. She said his Government had failed to fulfil its promise of providing employment under the two major schemes announced by it.

On the contrary, it was negating the steps taken by the Congress government in giving a better deal to the under- privileged. ``This Government is raising doubts over the very Constitution that provides an equal status to all sections of society,'' she said in an obvious reference to the Constitution review.

Calling upon the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled States to work for the betterment of the downtrodden, she said this was more important in the newly created tribal-dominated State of Chhatisgarh. The Congress president spoke of her several visits to the tribal areas with the former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, which helped her to acquaint herself with the problems of the people here.

The Chhatisgarh Chief Minister, Mr. Ajit Jogi, said that when he took over as the Chief Minister last year, Ms. Gandhi's advise to him was not to trouble the poor and it was his strict adherence to these words which have made him successful.

Accusing the Centre of creating problems for him, Mr. Jogi said making Ms. Gandhi the Prime Minister of India was the only way to take the country forward. And he took a pledge to do that.

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