Indian Decade

Sonia Gandhi Lashes Out

Sonia Gandhi goes on the offensive. How will the UPA government respond? Rajeev Sharma breaks it down.

Sonia Gandhi Lashes Out
Credit: World Economic Forum

Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) who also heads the National Advisory Council (NAC), “slammed” the government for not implementing several of its recommendations, including her pet scheme: food security to all.

Gandhi put her anger on record at a meeting of the NAC last Friday. Her criticism is contained in a 35-page report called “the current status of the NAC recommendations in the Government."

The report shows how the government has been dragging its feet on the recommendations for social change. The NAC is upset that the government is also diluting its recommendations like those on the food security bill in which it has sought a universal public distribution system covering the entire population.

The report shows how little has been done on the NAC's repeated calls for enactment of the communal violence bill and the land acquisition-rehabilitation bill, besides its call for strengthening the forest dwellers' rights bill, a sensitive matter, which has been put on the NAC’s agenda for its next meeting on August 24.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is facing a pincer attack on the NAC front. As though criticism of his government by Gandhi weren’t enough, the UPA government has come under fire from social activist Aruna Roy, who is one of the most active members of the NAC. Roy accused the government of being "not at all serious about issues of accountability and corruption."

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Aruna Roy has written four letters on different issues to Sonia Gandhi and sought her intervention. She wants Gandhi to ensure that the government tackles the most urgent issue of protection of users of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Roy has told Gandhi that while RTI activists are being attacked and even killed at regular intervals, the government has done precious little and the whistleblower protection bill remains stuck in the Rajya Sabha.