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In Nehru land, Rahul blasts Mayawati - and SP too

Monday November 14, 2011 05:26:57 PM, IANS

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Battle 2012: Congress throws down gauntlet from Nehru bastion

That the road to New Delhi passes through Uttar Pradesh is accepted political wisdom. But what about the road to the state itself? Rahul Gandhi is hoping the answer would be Phulpur - a move that has the Congress' rivals keeping a hawk's eye. With polls to the 403-member  

Phulpur (Uttar Pradesh): On his maiden visit to his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru's constituency, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took on both Chief Minister Mayawati and the Samajwadi Party as he hinted at playing a larger role in Uttar Pradesh politics.

Reiterating his favourite theme, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi alleged that Uttar Pradesh had fallen off the development radar in the years after non-Congress parties took charge of the country's most populous state in 1989.

His main ire was aimed at Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), but he did not spare the Samajwadi Party (SP) either. Apparently to drive home a point about the state's main political players, he ignored the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"When Hindustan is moving forward, Uttar Pradesh is going backwards," Gandhi said, kicking off the Congress campaign for the 2012 state election where his party hopes to make a major bid for power.

Gandhi, 41, was speaking at Jhusi in Phulpur, the Lok Sabha constituency once represented by Nehru, the first prime minister and a key architect of modern India. Phulphur lies about 200 km from Lucknow.

In an apparent reference to the Congress which held sway over Uttar Pradesh for decades after India's independence, he said there was a time when the state led the country on the development issue.

Addressing a huge crowd, he evoked Nehru's name at the beginning of his speech, saying Phulpur was Nehru's "karambhoomi" (land of work). Monday is also Nehru's birth anniversary.

He said the "mafia" was now holding sway in Phulpur.

Gandhi said he had been coming to the state as a politician for the past seven years and felt a sense of anger.

"I feel angry. Why don't I go to Lucknow and fight your battle?" Gandhi said in suggestive words that many saw an an indication of his interest in a more active role in the state's politics.

Gandhi spoke of the role of youth in bringing about transformation and asked the gathering if it was ready for a regime change.

"The youth have a responsibility. Till the youth stand up, no one can help. The day youth stands up, it will take five years (for Uttar Pradesh to develop)... all (other) states will be left behind.

"When will you awaken? Tell me, explain to me!"

"I feel a sense of anguish, a sense of anger... The strength of the country is among the poor... Your government does not think about the poor people," he said.

Gandhi sought to evoke a sense of pride among the people of Uttar Pradesh about their past. "No one can come to the rescue of state till its people awaken and bring about changes."

He also emphasised the development thrust of the Congress campaign. "The day you elect a government of development, nobody can leave Uttar Pradesh behind."

Gandhi accused the Mayawati government of corruption and misusing central government funds. He also accused the BSP and SP of playing caste politics.

He said Uttar Pradesh had seen a lot of changes "but no progress".

Listing the schemes of the Congress-led central government, he said it would bring the food security bill in the winter session of parliament. He also mentioned the government's commitment to a strong Lokpal bill.







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