NATIONAL

BJP bid to destroy composite culture: Sonia

FAIZABAD (U.P.), APRIL 24. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, wound up her campaign tour here this afternoon for the April 26 election with a call to the natives of the land of "Maryadapurushottam Ram" to vote for a party that would uphold the principles he represented.

On the last day of campaigning for the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Gandhi addressed a gathering at Deodhi village, which borders four of Faizabad's Assembly segments.

She said the Congress was the only party which had principles while the Bharatiya Janata Party was "determined to destroy" the country's composite "Ganga-Jamuna" culture.

The other parties "pretended" to be secular but indulged in caste politics. "All other parties are pretending to fight each other, but they have a tacit understanding," she told the people who had waited for over three hours in the scorching heat for her arrival.

Ms. Gandhi said "a Government should address the needs of all sections of society'' just like Lord Ram who represented the country's composite culture and was not the icon of any one section.

Coming down strongly on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government, Ms. Gandhi said: "What has the common man got under this rule?''

On Ayodhya, she reiterated the party's stated position that all concerned should wait for the court verdict. "If a negotiated settlement is possible, it is welcome, but it should also have legal sanction."

The Congress, which has lost this constituency since 1989, is seeking to stage a comeback on the goodwill enjoyed by its candidate who represented the seat in Parliament in the 1980s, and is also the grandson of the Socialist, Narendra Dev.

PTI, UNI report:

Addressing a meeting at Salempur near Deodhi, Ms. Gandhi attacked the BJP, saying "a party which could drag even Lord Ram in the battle for power cannot be expected to spare the common folk."

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