Sonia appeals to opposition to help pass key bills

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday appealed to the opposition parties, including the BJP, to cooperate with the UPA government in passing the food security and land acquisition bills in the interest of the people.

She expressed disappointment that parliament was not allowed to function to enable the passage of the crucial legislations.

“I make a plea to the National Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties… Let us come together to ensure passage of the food security and the land acquisition bills and other important bills,” Gandhi said at a function here to mark the United Progressive Alliance governments nine years in office.

“We are disappointed that we have not been able to get crucial legislations enacted because of the obstructionist approach. Parliament still has time, we still have time to fulfil our duties to people,” she said.

“It is not a question of government versus the opposition. These bills affect the lives and livelihoods of millions whom we are committed to represent and benefit,” Gandhi said, adding these are not “partisan issues… These affect the lives of millions who we are committed to represent”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party did not allow the passage of these two bills in the recent budget session, demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign on alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of coal blocks.

The UPA chairperson appreciated the performance of the government saying it is “an appropriate moment to celebrate. It is also an appropriate moment to reflect on what we have sought to do during the last nine years”.

She said major initiatives have been taken for the welfare of the people.

Listing the achievement of the UPA she said: “Never before the procurement prices for the farmers been increased as they have in the last nine years and this has led to a record production of food grains. Never before have so many of our children been in school and colleges, aspiring for a better future.”

“The nation is closely connected today through rural roads and through a mobile telephone network which is the second largest in the world with the cheapest call rates.”

Backing the prime minister, Gandhi said: “The prime minister is carrying out his responsibility with great dignity in the face of unrelenting hostility and abuse from the opposition. We respect him and we all stand by him”.

Gandhi said the world is going through a financial crisis, “yet our government has been able to navigate these turbulent times with confidence and has shown resilience.”

Coming down heavily on the opposition, she said, “…I do not hide my deep sense of disappointment at the way that parliament has been prevented by the principal opposition party from functioning and fulfilling both its constitutional role and its democratic obligations, and that too inside our government at all levels despite repeated offer for debates and discussion on all issues”.

Touching on the topic of corruption, she said: “Corruption remains an issue as it concerns us. We have been uncompromising in our efforts to combat this scourge.” She, however, added: “We have nothing to hide we have nothing to feel defensive about.”

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