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Rahul challenges Mayawati in her bastion
Ambedkar Nagar (Uttar Pradesh), Apr 14 (IANS)
Published on 15 Apr. 2010 12:30 AM IST
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Throwing a challenge to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Wednesday accused her of neglecting the welfare of the poor she claimed to represent.
The son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi also asserted that he was confident of bringing the country’s oldest political party to power in the state.
Visibly impressed by the massive crowd that braved the scorching 43 degrees to throng his meeting, Gandhi said: “This glorious state has suffered over the past two decades essentially on account of the politics of caste and religion.”
Speaking in this town about 180 km from Lucknow, he said amid resounding applause: “I am here to change that politics. What Uttar Pradesh needs is the politics of youth, the politics of development and employment.” “I am here to raise the key issues that affect the masses who remain deprived and downtrodden, simply because their uplift does not figure in the list of priorities of those who are in power here,” he added.
Giving examples of Mayawati’s alleged indifference towards the “real problems” facing the state, Gandhi recalled how the chief minister had not cared to ensure proper implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
He described NREGS “as the only programme in India to provide assured employment for 100 days in a year to the economically weak”.
“Special funds released for the development of the highly backward Bundelkhand region were not put to proper use. When it came to the Right to Education, the BSP government has come up with all kinds o5f excuses for not implementing it,” he said.
“I wonder how the chief minister continued to proclaim herself as the messiah of the poor and downtrodden when she seems least interested in schemes and programmes aimed at their well being?”
Gandhi, who arrived here in the afternoon, addressed the rally at 1.30 p.m. He left the venue at 2.45 amid slogan shouting by supporters.
Gandhi was in his aggressive best as he thundered: “I am confident the Congress will change the destiny of this state.”
As if to prove a point, Gandhi chose the birth anniversary of BSP’s most important icon, B.R. Ambedkar, to rail against a party that considers Ambedkar its exclusive property.
Gandhi sought to make it loud and clear that he was here to “take Uttar Pradesh out of the woods where it has sunk largely on account of the politics of caste and religion”.
Reminding the gathering of his efforts to revive the Congress in the country’s most populous state, he said: “When I started working in Uttar Pradesh, the opposition scoffed and laughed at me. The media predicted that there was no hope for the Congress at the last Lok Sabha election.
“But the election results changed everybody’s view as we bagged as many as 22 seats.”
Without taking her name, in an obvious reference to Mayawati’s oft repeated criticism of his forays into the homes of Dalits in rural Uttar Pradesh, he said: “I am committed to the cause of the poor and the needy who reside in villages because I feel that the true strength of India lies there.”

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