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‘Will fight for Lokpal and women reservation’

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday said she was ready to fight for the anti-graft Lokpal and women’s reservation bills in the Lok Sabha and dismissed as “rumours” speculation that there were differences between the government and the ruling party.

A day after the cabinet gave its nod to the Lokpal bill, Gandhi told her party MPs that she was ready to “fight for Lokpal and women’s reservation” bills and urged them to be prepared for the battle in the house, said a Congress leader present at the meeting.

The women’s reservation bill, which proposes that 33 percent of seats in legislatures be reserved for women, has been hanging fire after the Rajya Sabha passed it in March 2010. It is facing severe opposition from many parties.

Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the ruling combine United Progressive Alliance (UPA), said some people were spreading “rumours” that there were differences between the government and the Congress.

Describing as a canard the speculations about differences between the government and the party, Gandhi said there could be different perceptions on some important issues but in the final count both were on the same platform.

“She said there may be differences of opinion but things are done together in a consensus,” according to the leader who didn’t want to be named.

The UPA chairperson described the Lokpal bill as a “pathbreaking” legislation and urged the opposition parties and anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to accept it.

“They must accept it. I am always ready for a fight,” Gandhi, emerging out of the meeting, told reporters in a short conversation.

Gandhi critisised the opposition for frequent parliament disruptions and said: “The opposition cannot reconcile to the fact that they lost (previous elections).”

She was asked about Hazare and his team of supporters expressing dissatisfaction over the cabinet approved Lokpal bill — that brings the prime minister within its ambit but leaves out two other key demands of the activists for inclusion of the CBI and the lower bureaucracy.

Hazare dubbed the government as “dishonest” and has vowed another hunger strike from Dec 27.

Gandhi told Congress MPs that no other party had done as much as the Congress to fight corruption in the country.

Referring to the Burari session of the Congress last December, she said the party had decided on the steps to fight corruption and delivered on those promises.

The government, she said, had brought the whistleblowers bill, put in place the grievances redressal mechanism, the Lokpal bill, and the citizens charter. Referring to the food security bill, she said addressing concerns of the common man was central to the agenda of the United Progressive Alliance.