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Sonia-Modi face-off in Chhattisgarh poll campaign over Maoist attacks

Gandhi alleged poverty is on the rise in state,Modi said people had prevented 'looters' by voting for BJP.

Written by PTI | Kondagaon/kanker | Published:November 7, 2013 1:52 pm

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi locked horns in a high voltage election campaign in Chhattisgarh.

Modi and Gandhi virtually came face-to-face in the poll campaign in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region where they clashed over the Maoists attacks that had wiped out the entire state Congress leadership and over governance.

In the first direct attack on Gandhi in recent times, Modi said she should speak up on coal and 2G spectrum scams and alleged that the Congress was “misleading” the country on issues like development,inflation and employment generation.

Addressing an election rally in Kanker soon after Gandhi’s public meeting in Kondagaon,he took a dig at her for saying that Congress believes in “doing work silently rather than speaking” and said the scams in coal block allocation and 2G spectrum were examples in this regard.

Gandhi slams Raman govt

In her speech,Gandhi alleged that poverty is on the rise in Chhattisgarh while Modi rebutted the charge saying by voting BJP,the people had prevented “looters” (Congress) from coming to power. “If Congress had come to power,one could imagine what would have happened,” he said.

Both the leaders were on a whirlwind tour of the Maoist-dominated tribal areas of Bastar whose 18 seats go to polls on November 11. In the morning security forces defused two IEDs weighing 50 kg in Dantewada area in the district.

Gandhi picked on the Raman Singh government on the handling of the security situation.

“You all know the security situation in the state. I want to ask all of you here,what kind of government is this? Innocents are being killed in naxal violence.

“This year itself Congress leaders have sacrificed their lives in naxal attacks and we are all very sad about it. We are feeling their loss in a big way today. The Chief Minister was forced to admit to his government’s failure. But,I want to ask you what is the use of shedding crocodile tears,” she said.

Gandhi hoped that the people of Chhattisgarh people will not fall prey to false promises and assurances,but will remember Congress history of sacrifice,development and working for the welfare of the poor and weaker sections.

Holding the state government responsible for poverty in the state,she said while other states showed a decline in poverty,in Chhattisgarh it was on the increase due to the “misrule” of BJP in the last 10 years.

“BJP talks of good governance,but because of it’s misgovernance in Chhattisgarh,poverty has increased. There are law and order problems here. What has the Chhattisgarh Government done about it?” she asked,saying,”the reality is BJP only talks big,but does nothing.”

Modi defends Raman,attacks Nitish

Coming in strong defence of Raman Singh,Modi hit out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,saying he was being “arrogant” by refusing to order a probe to ascertain if negligence had led to blasts in his party’s rally in Patna.

Comparing Kumar with Singh,Modi said after the Maoist attack in which several top Congress leaders were killed Raman Singh,who was on a yatra,had cancelled his journey and ordered not only a judicial probe but also visited the families of the deceased.

He said that this was in sharp contrast to what the Nitish Kumar-led government did after the serial blasts in the BJP rally that killed several people. He claimed that “people” in the Bihar government were having sumptuous meals and showed no anguish over the incident.

‘State’s pace is very slow’

Gandhi asked what BJP had given to the people of the state in the last 10 years when there were a lot of expectations in the new state.

She said the Raman Singh government has not done enough and only made “tall claims”. She said the Congress government at the Centre has given a lot of funds for development of the state but the pace is very slow.

“In the last 5 years,we have given a lot of funds for development. But the pace of work on development of roads has been very slow…Apart from fighting the government here,our government has come out with a Land Acquisition Act,Food Security Act and various development schemes. But the basic difference between Congress and BJP is – they only talk big and don’t do any work,” she said.

Sonia touts MNREGA

Gandhi also touted the MNREGA scheme,which provides for 100 days of guaranteed employment to people of a state,including tribals.

Modi hit back saying while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had been claiming that his government had brought the food security legislation,the BJP government in Chhattisgarh had already implemented such a scheme in the state.

He also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi for his remark that “poverty is a state of mind”,saying “how can there be such leaders who do not even know the language of the people…Such leaders make fun of poverty. Those who have not seen poverty,what will they know of the pain of the poor? I have been born in poverty,I have suffered in life.”

Attacking the Planning Commission for its figures that anyone earning Rs 26 a day is above the poverty line,he said “how can you eat a stomach-full meal? These are such people who spend Rs 100-200 for a bottle of water in a 5-star hotel. Such people don’t have the right to rule this country.”

Seeking votes in the name of development,the Gujarat chief minister warned people against falling in the trap of Congress.

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