Sonia takes on BSP government in Uttar Pradesh

March 31st, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Kanpur, March 31 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi launched a broadside against Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Monday and said her MP son Rahul Gandhi would go to jail if needed to protest against BSP rule. Addressing the concluding session of the two-day Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee convention here, Gandhi held the BSP responsible for the plight of the Dalits and backward classes in the state. She also accused the BSP government of indulging in corruption.

“The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given millions and millions of rupees to the Uttar Pradesh government but not enough has been done for the people. It is time to ask the Uttar Pradesh government to give an account of where this money was spent,” she said in her sharpest attack on the BSP since it took power in the country’s most populous state last year.

“The Congress should start an agitation against the state government and (its members should) be prepared to go to jail if required. If need be, Rahul will go to jail with you,” she said, referring to her son and Lok Sabha MP from Amethi.

Rahul Gandhi had addressed the gathering earlier.

Referring to his visit to Uttar Pradesh in March, Rahul Gandhi said: “In Etawah, Dalits told me that (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi used to think about them, (BSP leader) Kanshi Ram used to think about them. But today they have been betrayed. There is no one to look after their interests.”

He said that the Mayawati government had also ignored the interests of the backward classes in the state.

The younger Gandhi’s comments were a reiteration of what he said during a visit to Bundelkhand in January that only 5 percent of the funds meant for the poor and backward classes were going to the intended beneficiaries.

The young Congress general secretary has been trying to woo the Dalit vote - much to Mayawati’s discomfiture. In January he spent a night in a Dalit house in Amethi.

Also in March, he visited Etawah’s Aminabad area where six members of a Dalit family were killed by bandits.

This has been a matter of much concern to the BSP for which the Dalits are its core vote bank.

Mayawati tried to beat Rahul Gandhi at this wooing game and planned a quick visit to Etawah ahead of him when she came to know he was visiting the families.

Neither Sonia nor Rahul Gandhi said anything about the Samajwadi Party, the other main political force in Uttar Pradesh. There are growing signs that these two parties might shed years of animosity and come closer.

After blasting the BSP government, Sonia Gandhi turned her attention to her own party, which has failed to take power in Uttar Pradesh for two long decades.

“While the rise of caste and communal forces are to blame for various ills facing Uttar Pradesh, our own party leaders too have failed to make any difference. They lack the efforts to revive the party in the country’s most populous state,” she said.

“If our rivals have been hankering after power, even some of our own party leaders have failed to rise above their vested interests. We should get more and more active people into the party fold,” she added.

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