New Delhi: Strongly backing economic reforms initiated by the government, an aggressive Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday hit out at the opposition accusing it of trying to weaken the roots of democracy and misleading the people.

Addressing a big rally at the Ramlila grounds here, Gandhi also shared widespread concerns over corruption, saying it was like a cancer mostly affecting the poor. She said the UPA government would intensify its efforts to effectively deal with corruption.

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Without naming the BJP, the Congress President said some political parties were yet to accept and digest the simple fact that the people had elected the UPA to power in 2004 and 2009.

"These parties want to weaken the government you had elected. They repeatedly put obstacles in the functioning of Parliament. Why do they do so? The answer is straight forward -- these people do not want various public welfare measures to be passed by Parliament," an unusually combative Gandhi said.

She said the opposition parties do not want to discuss important issues facing the country as they are themselves entangled into it. Gandhi said the opposition was shying away from debate in Parliament as it would expose their double standards.

"I want to make it very clear, they are trying to weaken the very foundation of our democracy," she said. Gandhi said the Congress party, which has laid the foundation of democracy in the country, would never allow the opposition intention to bear fruit. "Congress has never allowed such forces to play around with the Constitution in Parliament and will never allow it in the future," she said.

Opposition neck-deep in corruption

With its image battered by a series of corruption allegations, Congress on Sunday launched a counter offensive against the opposition, especially BJP, saying it was "neck-deep" in corruption and gave clear signals that the UPA government will go ahead with implementing FDI in retail.

The Congress bigwigs including party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi utilised a well-attended party rally, where party chief ministers and other leaders were present, to convey the message that the party was on board on economic reforms and the recent fuel price hike notwithstanding the strident attack from the opposition.

Dispelling any impression about Congress and the government having second thoughts on the FDI issue, Sonia Gandhi said that the country needed a large dose of investment, of which FDI is a part, to boost growth and employment.

Lauding the stewardship of the Prime Minister at a time when the world was witnessing economic distress, she said that India has fared much better than many other countries and the government has to provide jobs for 80 to 100 lakh youth who enter the job market every year.

Against the backdrop of attacks on Congress over a number of scams, Gandhi said corruption is a cancer which affects the poor the most and declared that whoever is found guilty will not be spared.

In a veiled attack on BJP, which she did not name, Gandhi said that those levelling false allegations against Congress, were themselves "neckdeep" in corruption.

"Those who dig ditches for others, have a well ready for them", she said quoting a Hindi proverb in an apparent reference to corruption charges against BJP including those faced by its President Nitin Gadkari.

Claiming credit for enacting RTI to bring transparency and check corruption, Gandhi said such a law can be brought only by those who want to eradicate corruption and that was the reason the government brought the Lokpal bill, but BJP did not allow its passage in Rajya Sabha.

(JPN/Agencies)

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