Chamoli (Uttarakhand)/New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday hit out at Team
Anna and said the party and the UPA government were committed to a
strong anti-corruption ombudsman (Lokpal). Team Anna member Arvind
Kejriwal expressed hope the bill would be passed in the winter
session of parliament.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that
Gandhi's comments "reflects their views".
Welcoming Sonia's statement, read out in absentia in Chamoli (Uttarakhand),
Kejriwal expressed hope "the Congress would keep its word and pass
the legislation in the winter session starting Nov 22".
Hitting out at Team Anna for threatening another agitation on the
Lokpal bill, Sonia Gandhi said "Corruption cannot be fought by
speeches, so I don't understand why this noise."
She also reminded Team Anna that "It was the National Advisory
Council (NAC) headed by me which had first started public
consultations for a Lokpal".
The speech was read out at a function to lay the foundation stone
of a new rail line at Gauchar in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
"You also know that prime minister has said, our party has
repeatedly said that we are in favour of an effective, strong
Lokpal bill. The bill will be presented in the parliament and we
will implement it. I feel what is the need of making so much hue
and cry," Gandhi said.
She also said that corruption cannot be erased by only finger
pointing at one another, but people have to "look within".
"There is a lot of talk on corruption these days. There is no
doubt that corruption is a big disease and is prevalent in some
way at every level. There is need to build atmosphere against it.
Corruption cannot be eradicated by mere talk, it cannot be
eradicated by only raising fingers at one another. Every one will
have to look within," Gandhi said.
This is the first time the Congress chief has spoken in detail on
Gandhi, 64, who was supposed to address a rally in Chamoli, her
first since returning after a surgery abroad for an undisclosed
ailment in August, called off the visit after she developed fever.
In her place, Defence Minister A.K. Antony laid the foundation
The rally was being seen as the launch of the Congress's campaign
for the upcoming assembly polls in 2012 in the BJP ruled state.
The Congress president is a star campaigner and the party is
banking heavily on her crowd-pulling abilities in the five states
of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand going to
the polls next year.
Reacting to Gandhi's statement, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said:
"I think she has read out a statement from BJP, which has been
"The UPA chairperson should tell the nation what are the steps
taken by her, her government and her party against corruption," he
India Against Corruption (IAC), run by Team Anna, welcomed
Gandhi's commitment on Lokpal.
Kejriwal wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter: "We sincerely hope
the government would honour her commitment of getting a strong and
effective Lokpal during the winter session. Mere speeches would
not be enough from the government's side," he added.