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After drubbing, Congress takes on mantle of Opposition

June 20, 2014 23:04 IST

The battered Congress has slammed the BJP on its decision to hike rail fares, the power crisis in the Capital and the abduction of Indians in Iraq. Anita Katyal reports how the Congress is wasting no time to criticise the ruling party.

After being the ruling party for the last 10 years, the Congress is now, gradually taking on the mantle of the Opposition.

Although the Congress had initially decided to lie low for the first six months before taking on the newly-elected National Democratic Alliance government, the party has now decided to shed its earlier diffidence and launch an offensive against the ruling alliance.

Following the announcement of the rail budget, the Congress took no time to slam the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

The decision to raise passenger rail fares by 14.2 per cent and freight by 6.5 per cent drew a sharp response from the Congress. Congress communication department chief Ajay Maken condemned the decision and demanded an immediate roll-back. “Is this what the BJP meant when they said, ‘achche din aane wale hain (good days are here to stay)’?  He asked if this is the way BJP wanted to reward those who had voted for the saffron party.

Maken said the hike in rail fare was a crippling blow to the common man who was already reeling from inflated prices. Accusing the BJP of doublespeak, Maken referred to Modi’s letter to Manmohan Singh in 2012 in which he had expressed strong indignation at the Centre’s sudden decision to hike railway freight charges by a whopping 20 per cent “through the backdoor” just a week before the presentation of the railway budget. Modi had subsequently tweeted about his letter.

Ahead of the Parliament session, scheduled for next month, Maken added, “We will certainly not be soft on the government in the coming session.”

Former finance minister P Chidambaram also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent remark that the United Progressive Alliance had left the coffers empty.

The attack on the rail hike was only the latest criticism of the Congress against the BJP. The Congress has also been staging fiery protests in the Capital against the power crisis.

Congress leaders, led by party president Sonia Gandhi also mounted pressure on the Modi government to ensure the safe return of the abducted Indians in Iraq. On Thursday, the Congress president wrote a strong letter to Prime Minister Modi asking him to “to intensify all diplomatic efforts” required to ensure the safety and secure the release of the 40 abducted Indians in Iraq.

Sonia Gandhi’s letter was preceded by a series of comments on this issue by others Congress leaders including Anand Sharma and Ambika Soni. Taking on the Modi government on the issue of the abducted Indians, both Soni and Sharma pointed out that there had been laxity somewhere.

While Sharma asked the BJP-led NDA government to intensify its efforts for the evacuation of Indians in strife-torn Iraq, Soni questioned the kind of monitoring undertaken by the ruling alliance to trace the whereabouts of the kidnapped Indians and find out those responsible for their abduction.

Image: The Congress led by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi had initially decided to lay low for the first six months, but have launched an offensive against the BJP-led NDA. 

Anita Katyal in New Delhi