Thiruvananthapuram: In an apparent bid to assuaging his feelings following Rahul Gandhi’s denunciation of the government, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi Sunday praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying schemes launched under his “able leadership” have helped millions of people from the marginalised sections.
On a two-day visit to Kerala capital, Gandhi lauded welfare and social security schemesfor marginalised people initiated by the UPA Government while inaugurating a research centre set up by her party’s Kerala unit and a major free health scheme of the Congress-led UDF Government in the state.
“They (marginalised sections) faced discrimination at every level. The UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lifted million of them through its flagship schemes,” she said at a function at Neyar Dam about 30 km from here.
Lauding the Oommen Chandy Government in the state for coming out with the ‘Aragkaykiran” scheme for children below 18 years, she said the project was in tune with the health and welfare schemes implemented by the UPA Government under the “able leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan singhji.”
She said this scheme would be implemented with the assistance of the Centre.
The remarks came amid a political storm over Rahul’s attack on the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers which he described as “complete nonsense” and a document that “should be torn up and thrown away”.
“What our government has done as far as this ordinance is concerned is wrong,” the Rahul had said on Friday.
After the outburst, Sonia Gandhi had spoken over telephone to the Prime Minister, who is away in the US on a visit, and Rahul also wrote to him expressing his “greatest admiration” for Singh’s leadership in extremely difficult circumstances.
Congress had made Rahul’s letter public hours after his attack.
The controversial ordinance, approved recently by the Union Cabinet presided over by Singh, seeks to prevent immediate disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs and negate a Supreme Court judgement on this.
Sonia Gandhi today said, “Congress always stood for the Gandhian principles of inclusive development and the party would continue to make efforts for the development of all sections of society based on this concept.”
She was speaking after inaugurating the Research-cum Training Centre attached to Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Development Studies set up by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
The UPA Chairperson noted that discrimination on the basis of gender, caste and class faced by marginalised section in the society was still a problem in the country and urged the policy makers to evolve policies and programmes to address it.
She said both UPA government at the Centre and UDF in Kerala were committed to ensuring inclusive growth underlined Gandhian principles and uplift the poor and downtrodden.
“We need to do much more to empower poor and marginalised,” she added.
Noting that Kerala was the first state to implement such a scheme, Gandhi said this was the right time for the state government to get more funds from the National Rural Health Mission launched by UPA.
She also launched a programme for free distribution of generic medicines for people irrespective of their income for getting treatment in government hospitals.
In a dig at her party’s principal rival LDF in Kerala, the Congress president said their rule had dragged the state 20 years back and the present government had brought it back on growth track.
Lauding the Chandy Government for implementing the cochlear implant scheme for deaf children, Gandhi said she would like a similar project implemented in Uttar Pradesh even though her party was not in power there.
Striking a personal note, Gandhi said “In my constituency in Uttar Pradesh, I came across a number of children with this problem, whose parents simply cannot afford at least thousand rupees for the treatment.”
Gandhi also unveiled a life-sized statue of former Chief Minister and late Congress veteran R Sankar, who had made significant contributions for educational and social progress of the backward classes.
She said the Congress was committed to social justice and progressive changes and that the UPA’s main objective is to create an “inclusive, just and responsible society where in every one will have equal rights.
Oommen Chandy, KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala and Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, Shashi Tharoor and Kodikunnil Suresh attended various functions alongwith Gandhi.