In round two, Sonia pulls no punches on Modi

Sonia Gandhi
Says areas other than CM's seat getting raw deal, rakes up suicides by farmers

Back in Gujarat after a gap of over a month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday targeted Chief Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that development in his Maninagar constituency was carried out at the cost of other areas. She, however, did not mention any name.

Addressing a rally at Keshod in Junagadh district, her second in the day, which goes to polls on December 13, she said, "For inclusive growth of urban pockets, we have implemented JNNURM. You will be amazed to know that 16 per cent of total grant has been spent only on one constituency."

"I do not want to take the name of this Assembly constituency. I think you all know," she said, referring to road, BRTS and lake development that Maninagar, represented by Modi since 2002, has witnessed.

Calling the current government tanashahi (dictatorial), Gandhi alleged that Saurashtra region was being ignored when it came to development.

Calling upon people to bring in a revolutionary change, the Congress chief said: "I appeal to you to fight this destructive, partisan and dictatorial (regime) with courage."

Earlier in the day, addressing a rally in tribal-dominated Mandvi in Surat district in south Gujarat, the Congress president said, "I am happy to see such greenery here. Indira Gandhi had also come here and met you people. This land has given true Gandhians like Jhinabhai Darji and Jugatram Dave, who devoted their lives working for tribals. This land also had given Gujarat its first tribal chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary.

Dismissing the Modi government's development claims, Gandhi said they were "hollow and false", she said.

"They (Modi and the BJP) have no interest in poor and common people but its only interest is development of its own and a select few people... the development which was promised in a big way is nowhere to be seen in this tribal land...because what they promised were hollow and false," she said.

"This is a land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel who used to preach what they practised. Now there are people who give big advice but not follow them," she said taking on Modi without naming him.

Modi has been targeting Gandhi during his campaign, especially on the issue of her foreign trips.

Like she did in her previous rally in Rajkot on October 3, Sonia once again raised the issue of suicides by farmers, unavailability of Narmada water, pending electricity connections, unaffordable housing, health and education.

"Now they talk of filling all dams in Saurashtra with Narmada water. What did they do in the past 10 years. Manmohan Singh-led government has done everything to make sure project got implemented, but the present state government failed to bring Narmada waters to Saurashtra, which is shameful," she said in Keshod.

"Farmers have committed suicide. There is no water or electricity available," the Congress chief added.

The Saurashtra region, which has 52 Assembly seats, saw a spate of suicides by farmers following poor monsoon this year. The Congress had announced Rs 1 lakh compensation to kin of each of the deceased farmers.

Hitting out at BJP's manifesto that promised 50 lakh houses in the next 50 years, Sonia said, "Now, at the time of elections, they remember houses. They are promising 50 lakh houses. How many units will they construct per day? What kind of dream are they selling?"

Dismissing Modi's claims of Gujarat being a power-surplus state, she said, "Even today, 57 areas are dark zones and 4.5 lakh farmers are waiting for electricity connections even as the state is selling power to other states."

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