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Mahesh Langa, HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 05, 2012
To counter Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s vote-catching prowess, the Congress fired a Capital salvo on Tuesday. At a news conference called to release the Congress election manifesto in the rapidly urbanising state, the party fielded Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, credited for transforming the city state into a “world class destination”.

Back on her feet barely a week after angioplasty, the 74-year-old CM compared Gujarat with Delhi point by point, service by service and infrastructure by infrastructure, and slammed Modi for shortchanging the people of the state.

“I have come here after seven years and, with all honesty, I tell you that it is no longer the Ahmedabad that it used to be 10 years ago.”

She cited data that showed Gujarat had one of the highest malnutrition rates in India, how little the government spent on healthcare and how the labour here was among the country’s most exploited.

“Let alone labour, even government servants here don’t get their due,” she said. The Gujarat government hasn’t fully implemented the Sixth Pay Commission report. As a result, there is a widespread practice of employing Class-IV employees at a fixed salary of Rs. 4,500 per month.

“In Delhi, the unskilled labour is ensured a monthly pay of Rs. 7,236 and it is indexed to inflation.” Dikshit said. “Gujarat government spends Rs. 260 per head in healthcare. We in Delhi spend Rs. 840 per person. Every year, 5 lakh people come to Delhi in search of work. We provide them with water, electricity, everything they need for a living.”

The Congress manifesto promised to provide affordable houses to women in urban and rural areas, free tablets and laptops to students and at least 16-hour power supply to farmers across the state. It also pledged to complete the implementation of Sixth Pay Commission report.