Congress sounds poll bugle for ‘14

Tags: Politics

Rahul Gandhi unveils five-point agenda to tackle prices, corruption

Hitting out at the opposition for blocking the ‘complete legal framework’ needed to deal with corruption, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday announced a five-point agenda for the party-ruled states to give people relief from rampant graft and price rise in the runup to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The announcement came after daylong deliberations, which he had with the Congress chief ministers at the party’s war room.

Indicating that he personally has zero tolerance on issues relating to corruption, Gandhi, in a kind of re-run of what he had done in the case of a Union cabinet’s decision on the ordinance protecting convicted legislators, disapproved of the Maharashtra government’s rejection of a judicial commission’s report on the Adarsh scam and said it should be reconsidered.

The report has so far indicted three former chief ministers — all belonging to the Congress party. “Personally, I don’t agree with that decision. They (Maharashtra government) should reconsider that,” the young leader said at a press conference after the meeting, where Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was also present.

“There is no question of protecting anybody... They should reconsider,” he insisted.

Asserting that only the Lokpal Act would not be enough to deal with corruption, Gandhi said a proper framework is required to be put in place, for which a number of legislations were needed. In this context, he attacked the BJP for blocking the passage of these legislations.

“These days, we hear big talk about fighting corruption... We hear again and again and again and again about corruption. But there is no action... Talks have become a fashion,” Gandhi said in an apparent attack on the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Pointing out that a number of bills are pending in Parliament, the visibly agitated leader said, “We want a framework... But we are blocked in Parliament. If they (opposition) are serious, let’s stop talking and start acting. We are dead serious (on fighting corruption).”

He then went on to add: “Let’s have a session of Parliament and create the framework. Whenever we talk about creating a framework, there is complete silence on the other (opposition) side. I don’t hear ‘let’s pass these bills’.”

Outlining the decisions of the meeting, the agenda for which was “corruption and price rise,” AICC communication department chief Ajay Maken listed five measures that Congress chief ministers have agreed to implement.

Maken said a decision had been taken that all the states ruled by the party will enact Lokayuktas modeled on the Lokpal Act by February 28 next year.

“All Congress-ruled sta­tes will by January 15 delist fruits and vegetables from their respective Agricultural Produce Markets Committee (APMC) Act, so that farmers will have a choice of where to sell their produce and consumers will get the benefit of lower prices,” Maken said.

These amendments to include or exclude items from the list need only executive order, sources said. All Congress-ruled states have also been directed to invoke Essential Commodities Act 1955 to deal sternly with hoarding, black-marketing and profiteering.

PTI adds: Describing the decision as “bold and timely move,” the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), chairman, Ashok Gulati said: “Congratulations to Rahul Gandhi and his party. This sends a message that they mean business and they are back into reforms.”

Echoing similar views, farm expert Vijay Sardana said, “It is a good development. If this is implemented, it will break the monopoly of state sponsored traders and bring competition and ensure free trade.”

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