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December 20, 2001
2138 IST

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Congress flays Centre for 'failure' to avert Parliament attack

A day after backing the Centre in the fight against terrorism, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday attacked the government for its 'failure' to avert the terrorist attack on Parliament despite advance intelligence from Maharashtra government.

"It is distressing that the government showed itself so ill-prepared for the attack notwithstanding advance intelligence furnished among others by our government in Maharashtra," Gandhi said addressing the general body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

She said, "It was the failure of the intelligence, which led to the tragedy of Kargil. It is again the failure to act upon available intelligence which lies at the root of the attack on Parliament."

Noting that the unfortunate climax to the session was the terrorist attack Gandhi, who is also the leader of the opposition, said, "India's democracy has survived, but it has been a very near thing."

Stating that precious little of substance was revealed by the government in Parliament about what specifically it intended to do in the wake of the attack, Gandhi said that her party would be carefully monitoring developments in this regard.

At the same time, she asserted that 'the nation will rise as one man to combat terrorism, which has been ailing our country for nearly two decades'.

The address also saw Gandhi launching a scathing attack on reinduction of George Fernandes as defence minister and Harin Pathak as minister of state for defence.

Without naming either of the ministers, Gandhi said it was 'inexplicable' that the prime minister should be 'so weak' as to readmit into his council of ministers persons who had been 'so discredited that he had himself asked them to leave'.

"If the prime minister has succumbed to internal political pressure to accommodate these flawed persons then it gives the country no confidence in the ability of his government to resist unhealthy influences in other areas of concern," she said.

Stating that the CAG report on arms procurement during the Kargil conflict was 'conclusive and damning', Gandhi said, "Even in buying coffins for our martyrs, this government has not been above board."

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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