This Article is From Sep 08, 2015

Row Over 'Hawaa Baazi': Smriti Irani Hits Back at Sonia Gandhi

HRD Minister Smriti Irani addressing a press conference at BJP headquarters in New Delhi. (Press Trust of India photo)

New Delhi: Hours after Congress president Sonia Gandhi derided what she called Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "hawaa baazi (hollow promises)," came union minister Smriti Irani's stinging comeback.

"People who accuse us of hawaa baazi told soldiers that One Rank One Pension is not possible due to financial constraints. It was the PM who turned their hawaa baazi to reality," Ms Irani said.

The successful accord with Naga militants recently, she added, was also no "hawaa baazi".

Listing initiatives taken by the Modi government since it came to power last year, the minister said: "We have no objection to Sonia Gandhi targeting Narendra Modi because whenever she does that, the people of India support Modi Ji."

Ms Irani also took pot-shots at Rahul Gandhi while responding to questions about the Congress decision to extend Sonia Gandhi's term as party president by another year.

"The person whose voting margin I reduced in 20 can imagine his importance. The question is for the Congress...why don't they consider Rahul Gandhi fit to lead?" she said. Ms Irani lost by a little over a lakh to Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi in last year's national election.

This morning, at a top leadership meeting of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi accused PM Modi of "hawaa baazi (talking in the air)" and said he had failed abysmally to "match media events with actual accomplishments."

"It has become painfully clear that most of the pledges made by the Prime Minister during his election campaign were nothing more than hawaa baazi," Mrs Gandhi said.

"The Modi Government has failed abysmally to match words with deeds, to match media events with actual accomplishments. The economy is on a downward slide while prices continue on their unrelenting rise," she added.

The PM, she said, had been reduced to "unedifying flip flops" which created confusion on what he really stood for.

It had earlier been speculated that Rahul Gandhi would take charge of the Congress, but the leaders say the 45-year-old is devoting his attention to rebuilding the party after its massive election defeat.