With the United Progressive Alliance government facing continuous attack over corruption, senior Congress leader and Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy has said the party had "failed to convince" the people about the actions taken on the issue.
Stressing that the Manmohan Singh government had not "spared" any of those accused of corruption, he said there was no need for the party to be on the "defensive" and it should have rather "taken advantage" on the basis of the actions taken.
"We have failed to convince the people on the actions taken by the UPA government. That I agree," Chandy told PTI in an interview in Thiruvananthapuram.
He was asked whether Congress was found wanting in effectively communicating its achievements and clearing the air on various kinds of allegation levelled against the government.
The 70-year-old leader insisted that the "actions" by the UPA government against the corrupt were "very strong" and "not a single person was spared".
Chandy buttressed his argument by citing the actions against ministers and leaders who faced allegations in scams involving 2G spectrum allocation and Commonwealth Games.
"The UPA government or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or party leadership did not shield the corrupt persons. No one can point out.... If the government had shielded the culprit, you could blame us," the second time chief minister added.
The apprehension that the issue could cause damage to the party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections apparently weighed heavily on his mind as he observed that the opposition is "taking advantage" on it.
"Actually, we should have taken advantage on the basis of actions taken by us on corruption. Congress should not have gone on the defensive on the issue. We should have gone on the offensive....We did everything (to punish the corrupt)....but on communicating this....there may have been weakness," Chandy said.
Asked about Narendra Modi's claims on the Gujarat development model, Chandy challenged the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, saying various studies have proved that Kerala is far ahead than his state in rural development, on addressing the issue of malnutrition, infant mortality rate and other areas of human development.
"How can Modi make such claims about development? Several studies conducted by various national and international agencies have proved that on uplift of poor, in area of rural development....Kerala is number 1 and Gujarat is far behind," the chief minister said.
He also questioned the way in which Modi came up in the leadership of BJP, saying, "He bypassed senior leaders including L K Advani. His background especially given the Gujarat riots....that will also have a big impact in this election."
The Kerala leader said that Rahul Gandhi's leadership will benefit Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
"Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the situation will change. Definitely, he can attract the youngsters and poor sections. He is the hope of the future India," he said.
Chandy also dismissed a suggestion that BJP has an upper hand in upcoming polls.
"Definitely when the Congress launches the campaign and gets into the campaign mode, that will change the political scenario," the chief minister said.
Highlighting the achievements of the UPA government in the last 10 years in various fields, Chandy said independent India witnessed the highest rate of development in all areas during this period.
"UPA's last 10 years have been a golden period for India's rural development," he said, citing the implementation of rights-based laws enacted during the period including MNREGA, Food Security Act and Right to Education Act.
He said that implementation of Acts like MNREGA have helped in improving people's purchasing power in the rural areas.