New Delhi: Accusing BJP of making "political bread and butter" by holding Parliament to ransom by "blackmail", a combative Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday took the battle to the opposition camp and asked the party to "stand up and fight aggressively".

Rallying the party behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the coal block allocation issue, she accused BJP of acting with "wanton irresponsibility".

READ MORE: Coalgate: BJP slams Sonia’s remarks

"We will not be deflected by the intemperate Congress bashing by the opposition. Let us stand up and fight. Fight with a sense of purpose and fight aggressively. We have many achievements. We have nothing to feel defensive about," Gandhi said.

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) here, she prefaced the remarks by flagging the party is now "entering a period in which elections will consume much of our time".

BJP blamed for stalling houses

With the Monsoon session nearly washed out over the CAG report issue, Gandhi laid the blame squarely on the BJP alleging that holding Parliament to ransom was the political bread and butter of the opposition party.

"It's targeting of the Prime Minister on the coal issue is entirely politically motivated. The Prime Minister has laid a detailed statement...That statement is clear, comprehensive and cogent. It completely exposes the BJP and its false propaganda," the Congress chief said.

She wondered as to "how many times will we have to witness this deliberate and cynical disruption that the BJP has made a habit of?"

PM ready for debate: Sonia

Gandhi asserted that the government and Prime Minister are always prepared for debate and discussion any issue, on any CAG report or for that matter on "any perceived shortcoming on their part".

"But the proper forum for this is an acting and involved Parliament, not one that is held to ransom by blackmail, which has become the political bread and butter of the BJP, much to the concern of even some of its allies".

The Congress President's remarks assume significance as they come in the backdrop of unease in some allies of BJP like JD-U over the continued disruption of Parliament.

Sonia targets BJP over demanding PM's resignation

In her first public response on the coal block allocation controversy that has paralysed Parliament with BJP adamant on the Prime Minister's resignation, Gandhi devoted a major part of her address targeting BJP.

"This attitude of 'our way or no way' makes a mockery of the vision of our founding fathers and of the Constitutional framework, they so painstakingly built for us. Parliament is not being allowed to function and fulfill its proper Constitutional role and duty. This is the handiwork of just one party - the BJP. This one again shows up the scant respect it has for democratic values," Gandhi said.

Gandhi, who is also the CPP Chairperson, took a dig at BJP leader L K Advani by remarking "what else can we conclude when its senior most leader refers to our government as 'illegitimate', thereby mocking the people of India for the convincing mandate they have given us."

The Congress chief said that it was condemnable when there was need to work together across party lines to tackle serious issues facing the people like drought, price rise and economic slowdown, "the country's principal opposition party is acting with wanton irresponsibility".

In the backdrop of the government's move to bring FDI in multi-brand retail facing stiff opposition from some parties including UPA ally Trinamool Congress, Gandhi said, "Many economic policies require a larger political understanding and agreement both within the UPA and with other political parties as well."

She said that Congress was striving sincerely for this consensus both within and outside UPA. "In a democracy, dialogue, debate and discussion are the only way forward. But the opposition especially the principal opposition party, has to come forth and show a sense of responsibility."

Sonia for high economic growth

Gandhi also utilized the occassion to press for efforts to revive and sustain the momentum of high economic growth in the country.

"Countries all over the world are facing troubled economic conditions, this in turn is also affecting us. Our focus, therefore, must be to revive and sustain the momentum of high economic growth," she said.

She also spoke about ethnic violence in Assam demanding that the guilty should be brought to justice and "strictest possible action" should be taken against those targeting the people from the northeast living in other parts of the country.

The Congress President lauded the government for its efforts to confront the emerging challenges.

"The Monsoon has been deficient in a number of districts. Our government has acted swiftly and has extended full support to the states affected. Despite the difficult economic conditions we are facing, it has announced several economic measures to help the farmers in areas like the agricultural credit, farm inputs, rural employment through MG-NREGA," she said.

Gandhi said that the government is continuously monitoring the situation and is fully prepared to meet all eventualities.

"Even if there were to be a shortfall in agricultural production this year, the food stock situation is comfortable," she said.


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