NATIONAL

Parties urge Congress to introspect

New Delhi Dec. 4. Political parties across the spectrum have advised the Congress to examine whether the drubbing it received in the three States was because of its "soft Hindutva" line, the reliance on policies of privatisation and liberalisation or the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. They fear that with this resounding victory, the "communal forces" would be emboldened to push forward their sectarian agenda.

The Janata Dal (United) said the Congress should think whether its rout in the three States was largely due to the unacceptability of Ms. Gandhi as a leader.

The CPI(M) politburo said the BJP could not be fought by adopting `anti-people' economic policies and at times `competing' with the BJP on a communal agenda. "The struggle against the BJP had to be on the basis of clear-cut alternative policies and a firm resolve not to compromise with the communal forces.''

It said the BJP had won on the basis of a negative vote against the performance of the Congress Government. In that sense this verdict was not an endorsement of the BJP's platform, as the Vajpayee Government was the initiator of `anti-people' policies.

"It is clear from the electoral verdict that the policies pursued by the Congress State Governments had created discontent among different sections of the people. The worst defeat for the Congress has been in Madhya Pradesh. The Digvijay Government had been in power for 10 years but failed to provide even basic facilities such as electricity and serviceable roads. The Chief Minister was a strong advocate of privatising the power sector which contributed to the power crisis in the State. It is this reliance on privatisation and liberalisation which alienated the Congress Government from people.''

The CPI said the Congress should have fought on a distinct political and ideological plank instead of conducting a campaign that was perceived to be "soft Hindutva."

The party national secretary, D. Raja, said the Congress should introspect over the reverses and not carry on with `anti-people' economic policies.

Calling upon the Left and democratic forces to take the lead to form a third camp against both, the BJP and the Congress, the CPI(ML) said the "bankruptcy" of the Congress must be rejected. Words of comfort for the Congress, however, came from its ally in Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav, chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal. "I am an ally of the Congress and will continue to be so. The election results are a sad development for secular forces and if they do not join hands then the country is in for a bad time. Although I accept the people's verdict, it is unfortunate that communal forces have come to power in the three States. But this is a temporary phase. In the Lok Sabha elections, they will be wiped out.''

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