NEW DELHI, Aug 28 (IANS): Lashing out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for stalling parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday asked her party MPs to aggressively fight the "intemperate Congress bashing".
She said blackmail has become the "bread and butter" of the main opposition party.
With the government under attack from the opposition over coal block allocations, Gandhi said at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party here that it was a "matter of shame and regret" that the BJP was not allowing parliament to function.
She defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the Comptroller and Auditor General's report on coal block allocation and said the BJP's demand for his resignation was "politically motivated".
Gandhi said even allies of the BJP had reservations over its obstructionist tactics.
"The proper forum for this (debate) is an active and involved parliament, not one that is held to ransom by blackmail, which has become the bread and butter of the BJP, much to the concern of some of its allies," she said.
Gandhi said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had many achievements to show in the forthcoming elections.
She made a scarcely veiled reference to the BJP allegations of Congress getting kickbacks in coal block allocations and dismissed the charges.
"We are now entering a period in which elections will consume much of our time. We have many achievements. We have nothing to feel defensive about. We are ready to face the challenges before us. We will not be deflected by intemperate Congress bashing by opposition. Let us stand up and fight, fight with a sense of purpose and fight aggressively," Gandhi said.
She accused the BJP of making a habit of stalling parliament.
"How many times will we have to witness this deliberate and cynical disruption? This once again shows up the scant respect the BJP has for democratic values. What else can we conclude when its senior-most leader refers to our government as `illegitimate', mocking the people of India for the convincing mandate given to us," Gandhi said.
The BJP has been disrupting both houses of parliament for the last six days over its insistence that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign after the CAG report pointed to lapses in coal block allocations.
"The prime minister has made a detailed statement on the coal issues in both houses. That statement is clear, comprehensive and cogent. It completely exposes the BJP and its false propaganda," Gandhi said.
Gandhi said she had repeatedly stated that the Congress and the government were ready to discuss all issues, including the CAG report.
Referring to ethnic violence in Assam, Gandhi said the guilty must be punished.
Describing as "equally painful - and unacceptable" the incidents where "talented and hard working young men and women from the northeast" were subjected to physical and psychological assault in cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore, she said the "strictest possible action" should be taken against those who seek to divide people with incendiary speeches.
"They have misused the social media for their hate-mongering... No government can stand by and ignore such treacherous activities," she said.
Gandhi also sought to blame the BJP for delay in some economic policy decisions, saying these required political understanding both within the UPA and with other political parties.
"We are striving sincerely for this both within and outside the UPA... But the opposition, specially the principal opposition party, has to come forth and show a sense of responsibility," she said.
Gandhi said the government has acted swiftly to help districts affected by deficient monsoon and was prepared to meet all eventualities.
The Congress president said the country was also being affected by the international economic situation.
"Our focus, therefore, must be to revive and sustain the momentum of high economic growth," Gandhi said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari later told reporters that lakhs of party workers would "hit the streets" to expose the BJP "shedding crocodile tears" over the sanctity of constitutional bodies.