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Congress ready for Lok Sabha polls: Sonia

July 07, 2003 12:50 IST

Reacting to reports that about the next general election may be advanced, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday emphasised that her party is ready to face polls any time, this year or next year.

Addressing the Congress conclave in Shimla, she expressed confidence that the people would reject the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government.

She accused the government of exploiting the issue of terrorism to divide the people.

The Vajpayee government has failed to effectively combat Pak-sponsored terrorism, Gandhi said adding, "Never before have so many incidents of terrorist violence taken place."

She pointed out that the Union home minister (Lal Kishenchand Advani), against whom there are cases pending, had not lived up to his assurance given in Parliament on presenting a white paper on activities of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence.

Recalling the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in 1999, she pointed out that the three dreaded terrorists set free by then external affairs minister (Jaswant Singh) were now carrying out attacks on innocent people in India.

Referring to army operation in the Hil Kaka area in Jammu and Kashmir, Gandhi asked how the bases established by terrorists went unnoticed for a long time.

She asked the government to explain what it had achieved from Operation Parakram, during which 4­00,000-500,000 troops had been deployed along the Pakistan border last year in the wake of the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament.

While the Rs 24,000crore (Rs 240billion) allotted for modernisation of the security forces had not been properly utilised, Gandhi accused the government of diverting the money collected through the Kargil tax for other purposes.

Gandhi said the government was ignoring Parliament pointing out that there had been no debate on the charges of 'intelligence failure' having led to the Kargil war.

The Congress president said even the report of the Central Vigilance Commission on defence purchases had been kept away from the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee.

"What better example can be there to hurt the democratic system," Gandhi said.

She also referred to scams relating to the Unit Trust of India, Delhi Development Authority and the telecom sector, adding 'even the Taj Mahal has not been left out'.

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