The web dictionary of the word ‘despicable’ covers a wide range of equally strong words: appalling, dreadful, wicked, disgraceful, vile, shameful …..the list would go on. Actually, in her address to the plenary session of the Congress on December 19, Ms Sonia Gandhi chose to describe the opposition attack on the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for alleged corruption charges virtually mushrooming under the UPA carpet (read regime) by that select word, ‘despicable’.
In effect it means, the Congress president wants to use all the above adjectives for the opposition parties especially her principal rivals, the BJP.
Seeking to take the battle on corruption to the enemy camp, the Congress president dubbed the BJP's personal attack on Dr Singh as 'downright despicable'.
“He is the embodiment of sobriety, dignity and integrity,” Ms Gandhi said about her hand-picked prime minister, who unlike UPA I is now allegedly doing some muscle-flexing often against the powerful 10 Janpath. She also chose the occasion to compliment the Prime Minister for his “silence” on various charges from the opposition – prime among them being the official explanation why the government was against the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). This answer ought to be answered particularly because the repeated Congress explanation is that the party has nothing to fear on all the charges of corruption!
Even in her address to the plenary session, Ms Gandhi spoke at everything else on corruption and alleged RSS-terror link, but there was no explanation why her party is not in favour of JPC. A demand – apparently even agreed to by key UPA allies like Sharad Pawar-led NCP and Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
“On your behalf, I want to compliment him (PM) for his wise leadership, for remaining calm amidst the storm,” Ms Gandhi waxed eloquently from her written speech.
The speech was otherwise well drafted reportedly with intervention of old war horse and expert draftsman Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and Dr Singh’s point man, Kapil Sibal.
Meeting against the backdrop of a stalemated parliament and threat of a similar show looming large even for crucial budget session from February over corruption scandals and Congress denial of JPC, Sonia Gandhi outlined a five-point agenda to deal with corruption, including fast-tracking cases of graft against public servants and politicians “like us’.
Terming corruption as a "disease spreading throughout the society", she outlined multi-prong steps to tackle corruption and among other things called for full transparency in public procurement and contracts and that whistleblowers should be protected. Counseling her party men to abjure “vulgar display of wealth”, she advised simplicity and austerity for celebrating occasions like marriages and birthdays.
Making her presidential speech on the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi’s wikileaks controversy, she lashed out at the BJP and singled out RSS for alleged terror links.
"Congress makes no distinction between organizations of the majority and minority communities who indulge in communalism and related acts of terrorism. They are all dangerous and must be all defeated,” she practically endorsed her son’s remarks even as another party general secretary Digvijay Singh harped on his agenda and said the biggest challenge to the country is RSS and BJP. “The way Hitler's Nazi party had targeted Jews, RSS is targeting Muslims. Even in the army, they have sent their people. In Malegaon blasts, two army officers were caught. The terror in the entire country has roots in Advani's Rath Yatra,” he said.
The Congress efforts in these party sessions seem clear: deflect the nation and media from the raging debate on corruption and the Congress complexity and talk more about secularism – a card that goes well with Congress’ vote bank, “Muslim minorities”.
But, the nation’s heart would continue to beat looking for more genuine answers.
Madam Sonia, Where's Mr Quatrochi?