Sonia disapproves of Rita's remarks

Sonia disapproves of Rita's remarks

Wary that its state unit chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s barb against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati could undo the gains it made in the key Hindi heartland State during the recent Lok Sabha LS polls, the Congress on Thursday treaded cautiously.

The party dissociated itself from Joshi’s remarks against Mayawati, but stepped up its offensive against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and accused its supremo of using the government machineries of UP for targeting her own political rivals. The Congress also demanded a CBI probe into the incident in which some miscreants, allegedly owing allegiance to the BSP, set ablaze Joshi’s residence in Lucknow.

The Congress said that the party president Sonia Gandhi had disapproved the words Joshi had uttered to criticise Mayawati. It also said that the party would seek an explanation from the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) chief after she came out of jail.

In a veiled snub to Joshi, the Congress said that it stood for highest standards in public debate on issues concerning people. “The values bequeathed to the Congress by its founders are explicit in the civilised engagement it has traditionally had with political adversaries no matter to which party they belong to,” it said.

The party also slammed Mayawati for atrocities on Dalit women in the State.
The AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that the party regretted the ‘personal element’ in reference to UP Chief Minister in the remarks of Joshi.
“The Congress holds all women in the highest esteem and does not believe in crossing the limits of sobriety even in the most provocative of circumstances,” he said.
The Congress, sources said, is worried over the fact that the BSP might use Joshi’s apparently derogatory remarks about the UP Chief Minister to once again consolidate the party’s support-base among Dalits.

Though Dalits have been the core-support base of the BSP, the party in 2007 UP assembly-polls managed to secure the support of certain sections of the Brahmins, other upper-castes and minorities too. The magic, however, did not work in the last LS polls and the BSP won just 20 of the 80 seats in the State. The Congress rather regained its lost ground and secured 21 seats, 12 more than its 2004 tally.

Apart from Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s decision to go it alone in UP, what went in favour of the party in the State is erosion in the Dalit vote-bank of the BSP.
Some of the Congress leaders from the northern State were on Thursday appeared apprehensive that Mayawati might use the remark of Joshi, a Brahmin, as a tool to re-consolidate her support-base among the Dalits.

The AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, however, denied that Joshi’s remarks about Mayawati might turn into a political setback for the Congress. “Congress has been fighting for Dalits for the past 100 years. An unrelated statement will not have any impact on our commitment for the community,” he said. Singh is in charge of the party’s affairs in UP.

Singh said that the party would help Joshi to defend herself legally. But neither he nor Dwivedi ruled out the possibility of actions against the UPCC chief.
But, sources said, a section of the Congress MPs from UP told the party high-command that any immediate action against Joshi could go against the party’s efforts to win larger chunks of Brahmin and Upper Caste votes in the 2012 assembly polls in the State.

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