Rahul Gandhi takes on Mayawati over development, floods (Lead)

August 28th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Allahabad, Aug 28 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Thursday blasted the Uttar Pradesh government for not implementing the central government’s “pro-poor policies” and not doing enough to battle floods.Addressing his first public meeting in Allahabad, the hometown of his great grandfather and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi said that Chief Minister Mayawati’s administration in Uttar Pradesh was lethargic when it came to policies meant to uplift the poor.

“The money (released by the central government) goes till Lucknow but never reaches the poor. Unless and until the poor of India, including those of Uttar Pradesh, progress, the country cannot move forward,” he said.

Thanking the people of Allahabad for their warm welcome, Gandhi stated that he shared an age old bond with this city. “Allahabad is the ancestral home of our family and I am very happy to visit the city.”

However, Gandhi’s scheduled trip to his ancestral house, the Anand Bhawan, the birthplace of Nehru, was cancelled.

Beginning his address by referring to his visit to the Naini Central Jail here, Gandhi expressed surprise over the crackdown on the National Students Union of India (NSUI) - the Congress student wing - for demanding student union elections in Allahabad University.

“The way the NSUI activists were suppressed and implicated under false sections of IPC (Indian Penal Code) is quite shocking. The voice of youths is being suppressed in Allahabad,” he said.

On Aug 25, a group of NSUI activists demonstrated outside the Allahabad University vice-chancellor’s office to demand revival of the student union elections that were banned after Mayawati came to power in May 2007.

However, the protest turned violent and the activists allegedly ransacked the vice-chancellor’s office. A case of attempt to murder was slapped against them.

Besides meeting the jailed activists, Gandhi also visited the cell where Nehru was lodged during the freedom struggle.

“I read the stone engraving describing his (Nehru’s) experiences in the jail. One thing is clear. The leaders of those times rose from grassroot level and could be termed the true sons of the soil of our country.

“However, the political leaders of the present, including I, are not able to reach that much to the public,” he said. “Our first priority should be to decrease this gap.”

Gandhi accused the state government of not doing enough to provide relief to the flood victims. He said he was dissatisfied with the efforts made by the Uttar Pradesh government.

“Over 20 districts are hit by floods. During my recent visits to Amethi and Sultanpur, I came to know about the problems faced by the flood hit. I will be visiting more and more flooded districts soon and ensure proper relief work,” he said.

Earlier, Gandhi also visited the grave of his grandfather, Firoz Jehangir Gandhi, in the Mumfordganj locality.

According to Brijlal, the 70-year-old caretaker, Gandhi’s mother and Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi visited the ground about eight years ago.

“Rahul came here around 2.15 p.m. along with some Parsi family friends and spent about 10 minutes,” said Brijlal, adding that the young Congress MP placed a wreath on the grave.

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