Stating that the local MP does not have time for the people of Amethi, three Union ministers led by Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, who referred to herself as “Amethi ki didi”, on Saturday slammed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for not attending two Central government functions here.
Rahul had released a letter on Friday in response to an invitation from Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to attend the inauguration of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology’s (RGIPT) permanent campus, saying he would have attended the function had it been scheduled on a “mutually convenient” date. In an attempt to deny the NDA credit for the institute campus’ inauguration, Rahul also said the Congress-led UPA had initiated the project.
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Pradhan, who along with Irani and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar inaugurated the 45-acre campus in Jais area of Amethi, said, “I wanted the local MP to be here but he sent me a letter saying he is busy. People have given him big task in 2014 (Lok Sabha elections). We are not indulging in politics (and) we are proud that the institute is named after Rajiv Gandhi – he was our prime minister.”
Slamming the Congress, Javadekar said the party has kept the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies uneducated – the way the British dealt with Indians during colonial rule – “because they will lose public support if the people became aware”. Rae Bareli and Amethi are said to the Congress’s pocket boroughs – Sonia represents the former in Lok Sabha, and Rahul the latter.
Irani said three Cabinet ministers found time to be in Amethi but Rahul is busier than them. She also claimed that schoolgirls who had protested in front of Rahul, demanding better and cheaper education, were put behind bars. “He is holding khat sabha in UP but he will not come to Amethi. Yahan unki khatiya khadi ho jayegi (he will be finished here),” she said.
Pradhan said the RGIPT project was initiated in 2008 but the UPA government allotted only Rs 129 crore to it in six years. The Modi government, he said, allocated Rs 302 crore in two years, and the pace of work increased after Irani requested him.
“He sent me some budgetary details of the project, so I am saying. I am a student of Sociology but you can see if Pappu has passed in Mathematics or not,” he said in lighter vein, taking a dig at BJP supporters’ nickname for the Amethi MP.
Pradhan said the government will work to make RGIPT one of the best institutes in the country and all public and private petroleum companies will come here for placement.
He also said that he will come next to the institute to unveil a statue of Vivekananda – “whenever the local MP finds it convenient, and I will ask him to spend a night (on campus) with the students along with me.”
The new campus has been developed at a cost of Rs 538 crore. It has about 400 students. While BJP workers put up a large number of hoardings to give credit to the Modi government. Congress workers lined up hoardings thanking Rahul for the institute.
The three Union ministers also distributed LPG connections to about 1,000 families under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in Gauriganj where Pradhan introduced Irani as someone “who gave a new identity to Amethi in last election”. He said his ministry’s official visited Rahul’s office but it declined to accept the invitation for this programme. “We thought he is from a big family, it will be good if he comes. But he said he is busy. Smriti Irani lost the election but she has come, but he could not find time even after winning,” said Pradhan.
He said only 1 lakh households in Amethi had LPG connection till 2014 and his ministry has given another 1 lakh connections in just two years. Pradhan promised to give another 1 lakh connections in the next two years.
He said Rahul is asking the PM to tell him what he did for farmers but he should first answer why the poor in Amethi could not get cooking gas despite being represented by Gandhi family for three decades.
Pradhan said when he was going to the institute from Fursatganj airstrip, he was surprised to see villagers asking for pure drinking water even after 70 years of independence.
Irani said Rahul is accusing PM of ignoring farmers but his Rajiv Gandhi Trust is occupying the land of farmers in Amethi. She also claimed that land was also grabbed in the name Samrat Cycle and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
Alleging that Rahul had won the Lok Sabha election with the help of Uttar Pradesh minister and Amethi’s Samajwadi Party MLA Gayatri Prajapati, Irani said, “He won with the help of the minister involved in mining. He does not have courage to speak against him.”
While Pradhan promised to open a skill centre in Jais, Javadekar announced opening of centres of National Institute of Open Schooling and Indira Gandhi National Open University in the district on Irani’s request.