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Choose your MP wisely: Sonia
Correspondent SHILLONG, APR 13:
Published on 13 Apr. 2009 11:38 PM IST
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Congress President Sonia Gandhi today asked the people to choose wisely and to reject individuals and smaller parties as Congress alone can assure political stability and development. “I am sure you will choose wisely and reject all those parties and small groupings and individuals who have shifting loyalties who are here today and elsewhere tomorrow,” the UPA Chairperson said, while addressing an election rally here. Without naming any individuals, Gandhi’s statement may be taken to also mean the recent four state legislators MLAs who on account of their jumping fence from the NCP-backed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) to the opposition Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA). Attired in traditional Dhara, a tribal dress of Khasi in the state, the Congress President appealed to the people to vote for the party and said it is only the Congress that can provide a strong and stable government that will protect secular values and communal harmony. Gandhi arrived here amidst tight security cover and the 24-hour bandh call given by the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council. “The Congress party is determined to make Meghalaya a major centre of the Information and Technology industry. Equally, we are determined that Meghalaya’s great potential for tourism be fully developed, starting with a world-class airport near Shillong,” she said. On the civil nuclear programme, Gandhi said that the UPA government had signed the international civil nuclear programme to expand electricity generation to bring an end to power cuts and load-shedding. “We have sanctioned for 100 per cent electrification of all villages in Meghalaya to put to an end to power crisis,” she said, adding that the centre had also provided special package to improve water supply in the state. The outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has accused UPA’s Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi of dividing the tribal Khasi along religious lines in Meghalaya. The tribal Khasi militant outfit had called a 24-hour bandh which came into effect from 1800 last evening to protest the Congress supremo to campaign for her two party candidates - Vincent H Pala and Deborah C Marak - for the Shillong and Tura Parliamentary seats respectively. Terming Gandhi’s visit as an “attempt to divide the Khasi community along religious lines”, HNLC Spokesman Sainkupar Nongtraw lambasted the Congress for inviting its party chief to address an election rally during Shad Suk Mynsiem, the religious festival of the tribal Khasi people. “Instead of attending the Shad Suk Mynsiem festival out of a sense of respect, many Khasis would be expected to attend the rally of the UPA chairperson. This is yet another sinister attempt against the jaitbynriew Khasi,” Nongtraw said. Pointing out that Varun Gandhi was booked under National Security Act for “inciting communal religious” against the minority community, the outfit Spokesman said, “Sonia has openly dividing the tribal Khasi along religious lines and violated election model code of conduct for not respecting the religious festival of the people.” be expected to attend the rally of the UPA chairperson. This is yet another sinister attempt against the jaitbynriew Khasi,” the HNLC said . The rebel group said the visit of the Congress leader was “preplanned to coincide with Shad Suk Mynsiem.” Meanwhile, several church denominations has expressed solidarity with Seng Khasi Seng Kmie and condemned the HNLC bandh. “It is a terrible feeling as we did not expect that a bandh would be called on a day when there is an annual traditional festival. Before announcing the bandh, HNLC should have considered the fact that this is the only festival which showcases traditional dance of the Khasi community,” Seng Khasi Seng Kmie General Secretary Banteilang Rumnong said. Though the HNLC has exempted people seeking to attend religious ceremonies, including the traditional dance festival, from the purview of the bandh, the fact remains that once the bandh is enforced it would simultaneously have a huge impact on the number of people willing to attend the festival, Mr Rumnong said. Expressing solidarity with Seng Khasi Seng Kmie and condemned the HNLC bandh, Arch Bishop Rev. Dominic Jala said, “It is unexpected that an outfit which claims to be the protector of the traditional practices and customs of the people has called bandh on a day when there is a traditional festival.”

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