New Delhi: Buffeted by
charges of corruption against its government, the Congress put up
a massive show of strength at a rally here Sunday with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi hitting
back at detractors and asserting that the recent slew of economic
reforms will benefit the country and create more jobs.
Addressing the Congress party's rally at the Ramlila Maidan here,
the prime minister said the move to allow foreign investment in
multi brand retail and hiking diesel prices in the face of much
opposition were aimed at ushering in faster economic reforms that
"will help the country to progress and earn more money to launch
welfare schemes to help the poor people."
He said the economic reforms were needed to create more jobs.
"People are being misled about our recent economic decisions," he
Reiterating his Sep 21 speech to the nation after the United
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government decided to to open up the
economy to multi-brand retail trade, the prime minister said that
FDI was beneficial for farmers and would not hurt small traders.
The Trinamool Congress had walked out of the UPA government on Sep
21 over the move while its ally the Samajwadi Party has also
voiced concern over the move.
Taking on the opposition, including the anti-corruption activists
for attacking the government and party over alleged corruption,
Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday challenged them saying the
truth and untruth in their charges needs to be understood well.
"The opposition is levelling several allegations of corruption
against the government. What is the truth and untruth in these
allegations needs to be understood well," Sonia Gandhi said.
"I admit, corruption is a cancer...is a disease.. But we have
fought this disease before and we will continue to fight this
disease with all strength once again," an aggressive Sonia Gandhi
"We will fight all graft charges against us and none found guilty
will be spared," she added.
Indirectly hitting out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin
Gadkari, who has been targeted by the IAC's Arvind Kejriwal for
alleged financial impropriety in the running of his Purti Group,
she said: "Those who are talking about corruption are finding
themselves neck-deep in corruption."
She also slammed the opposition for "trying to weaken the
democratic institutions and roots" of the country.
Sonia Gandhi attacked the opposition for not allowing key
legislation to be passed or discussed in parliament. The BJP had
stalled the monsoon session of parliament over alleged
irregularities the coal blocks allocations issue.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to be
anointed the party's number two in a major reorganisational move,
strongly attacked opposition parties for "lying" to farmers about
foreign investment in multi-brand retail.
Rahul Gandhi said that FDI would bring in cold storage facilities
and food processing centres to farmers, ensuring more profits to
"The opposition parties have been lying about the FDI policy to
farmers, particularly in Himachal Pradesh," he said without naming
the BJP. Himachal Pradesh went to the polls Sunday to elect a new
He also touched upon the anti-corruption movement in the country,
saying it was the UPA government of the last eight years that
brought in administrative transparency through the Right to
Information Act in 2005 through which people could get any
information from the government.
The rally in the heart of the capital was projected as a show of
political strength by a beleaguered party that is under all-round
attack, especially with national elections due in 2014.
It was attended by Congress ministers, chief ministers, state unit
chiefs, heads of block and district units, MPs, legislators and
leaders of the party's frontal organisations.
While the crowd number was put at hundreds of thousands, Congress
leader Digvijay Singh tweeted before the rally began that :"More
than 500,000 people have come for Rally." New Minister of State
for HRD Shashi Tharoor tweeted: "Looks like we have about 300,000
people here. Enthusiastic crowd!."