Oust BSP, Rahul urges Uttar Pradesh youth; Mayawati hits backNovember 14th, 2011 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS
Phulpur (Uttar Pradesh), Nov 14 (IANS) Kickstarting the Congress campaign for the 2012 election from the constituency of his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Monday urged the youth to oust the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh. “When will you wake up? I want an answer!” Gandhi thundered.
Gandhi’s battle cry triggered cries of “Rahul tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain! (Rahul, take the lead, we are with you!) from the mammoth crowd.
The son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi was addressing a rally at the packed railway ground on the city’s outskirts in Jhusi, which falls in the Phulpur parliamentary constituency.
Nehru, India’s first prime minister and a key architect of modern India, represented Phulpur in the Lok Sabha. The young Gandhi, 41, chose Nehru’s birth anniversary for his maiden visit to Phulpur.
Increasingly seen as the face of the Congress, Gandhi was at his aggressive best against Chief Minister Mayawati’s BSP. But he didn’t spare the Samajwadi Party either.
He asked the crowds: “How long will you continue to beg for your livelihood in Maharashtra or Punjab? Remember, this will go on until there is development in your state. No change is possible unless you change your mindset and act to affect a change of guards.”
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati late Monday evening blasted the Congress leader’s statements as a “pack of lies”.
“Whatever Rahul Gandhi has said earlier during the day was a pack of lies, politically motivated only with the intent of running down our government,” ruling Bahujan Samaj Party spokesman Swami Prasad Maurya said in a statement issued on behalf of Mayawati.
“Our chief minister wants the central government to clarify what the central government had done for the development of Uttar Pradesh,” the statement asked.
Mayawati also took serious note of Rahul’s remark about Uttar Pradesh youth “going abegging” in states like Maharashtra and Punjab. “What does Rahul mean by calling the UP youth beggars; he ought to realise that if someone goes from one part of the country to another in search of employment, he does not become a beggar; they are hard working people”, the statement pointed out.
Rahul Gandhi’s rally was attended by the bulk of Uttar Pradesh’s Congress leaders including several union ministers.
All of them underlined Phulpur’s “old connections” to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Gandhi repeatedly emphasised why he was sounding so angry.
“What makes me sad and angry are the utter neglect and exclusion of the poor from the development process in Uttar Pradesh, where things are just as they were two decades ago when the Congress was in power,” he said.
Appealing to the people to vote for the Congress, which has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh since 1989, he said: “A common man’s government has remained a distant dream for the people of Uttar Pradesh.
“I can assure you that the day you elect a government represented truly by the common man, this state will be transformed.”
He pointedly blamed the BSP and Samajwadi Party for the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh.
“There was a time when Uttar Pradesh showed the way to the rest of the country.”
Referring to Phulpur, he said: “It is from here that Pandit Nehru set the pace for the development of the whole country.”
Responding to Mayawati’s criticism of his forays into Dalit homes, Gandhi said: “You cannot understand the meaning of poverty unless you mingle with the poor and share a meal with them and drink the water they draw from their unhygienic wells.”
Blaming Mayawati for “rampant corruption”, he said this “was visible in the large-scale blatant pilferage of funds meant for development”.
Meanwhile, creating a controversy, union ministers Jitin Prasada and R.P.N. Singh and Congress legislators Pramod Tiwari and Naseeb Pathan roughed up a handful of Samajwadi Party activists who broke through the security cordon to show black flags to Gandhi as he arrived at the helipad.
Two of the protesters, who fell to the ground after being overpowered, were kicked by the Congress leaders until the policemen on duty took them in their custody.
While Nehru figured prominently in the publicity material and so did Sonia, there was rarely a mention of Rajiv Gandhi or Indira Gandhi.
In Mumbai, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena reacted sharply to Rahul Gandhi’s statement about Uttar Pradesh youth begging in Maharashtra.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray demanded to know how the situation had come to such a pass, especially since the Congress had been ruling Uttar Pradesh for several decades.
“What did the Congress do for the UP youth when it was in power for so many years? It is the Congress which is responsible for such a state of affairs,” Thackeray told mediapersons in the evening.
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