Gauchar-Chamoli (Uttarakhand): In a veiled attack on BJP and Team Anna, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said that corruption cannot be eradicated by mere slogans and those creating "hue and cry" should look within.

Gandhi, in a public address which was read out in her absence, questioned the need for beating the drum over corruption when the government itself had initiated the process of bringing a strong Lokpal bill and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had repeatedly expressed commitment to rid the country of graft.

"Corruption cannot be eradicated merely by talking or by pointing fingers at others. Everybody should look within," she said.

Gandhi also hit out at the alleged double-standards of those raising the issue, saying, "Corruption cannot be eradicated in a manner in which people think that their corruption is very sacred and corruption among others is very bad. These days the same is happening."

Though she did not name anybody, UPA chairperson was apparently hinting at BJP, whose leader L K Advani is on a Yatra during which he has been repeatedly attacking the government and Congress on corruption.

She also targeted Team Anna, which has been issuing frequent threats to the government over Lokpal bill.

She reminded that the National Advisory Council headed by her was the first to initiate a public debate for bringing a Lokpal bill.

"You also know that the Prime Minister himself, our party repeatedly said that we are in favour of an effective and strong Lokpal bill. The bill will be presented in Parliament and we will implement it. Then I wonder why this hue and cry," she said.

Taking the battle to the rival camp, Gandhi asked who had enacted and implemented the Right To Information Act or raised the issue of ending corruption and bringing transparency in public life first.

"I can say that we raised it and I myself did it. Wherever complaints were received, we took action even before the completion of the probe," she asserted in her speech in this far off village of poll-bound Uttarakhand.

Gandhi was to address the public meeting but could not make it due to her ill health.

Noting that there is a lot of talk about corruption these days, Gandhi said, "No doubt corruption is prevalent in society in some form or the other" and stressed "an atmosphere
needs to be created against it."

At the AICC briefing, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said that Congress believes the Lokpal bill will be brought before Parliament in the Winter Session. "I hope it will be passed as well in Winter session itself," he said.

Alvi said that Sonia Gandhi was right in pointing out that it was Congress, which first initiated the move for the Lokpal bill.

The Congress spokesperson at the same time refused to comment on party general secretary Digvijay Singh's remarks against Team Anna on Twitter saying questions regarding this should be put to him.

Asked whether Singh is taking the Congress line, Alvi said, "Whatever is spoken by the Congress spokesperson is the Congress line."

Sonia's speech triggers Cong-BJP slugfest

Congress president Sonia Gandhi's speech , which made a veiled attack on Team Anna, sparks a political slugfest between Congress and BJP over the issue of corruption.

While BJP accused the UPA Chairperson of being equally responsible for the "inaction" against corruption in government, Congress said the opposition party has no moral right to talk about corruption.

"It is surprising that BJP talks about corruption. Whenever Congress and the government felt there was slightest indication of corruption, action was taken even before the courts held anybody guilty," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters here.

He also raked up the corruption issues involving former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurapa, former party President Bangaru Laxman and former party MP Dilip Singh
Judev.

"Advani says he tried to convince former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa but he does not detail what he tried to convince him. Then why Advani remained silent," Alvi said.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said "the UPA Chairperson has said in her speech at a programme in Uttarakhand that mere public speeches will not end corruption. I think she has read out our statement. We have been saying for long that corruption is not going to end by speeches".

"The hands of both the UPA-I and UPA-II governments are soiled in corruption," he added.

Alvi dismissed BJP's criticism of UPA government on price rise issue saying there was no let-up in the same during NDA rule but added that Congress wants the government to take
steps to bring down prices as soon as possible and is hopeful it will happen before long.

(Agencies)