‘Advani isn’t strong’ | delhi | Hindustan Times
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‘Advani isn’t strong’

Rahul Gandhi slams BJP’s PM aspirant, showers praise on Manmohan Singh for N-deal, action after Mumbai attacks. Atul Mathur reports.

delhi Updated: Apr 30, 2009 23:31 IST
Atul Mathur

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi continued his tirade against Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani. Addressing a rally in Ghaziabad on Friday, Gandhi said Advani was not a “strong leader”.

“For the first time they sent a minister to release terrorists. But the then Union home minister (Advani) now says he was not aware of it. Does a strong leader talk like this?” Gandhi said.

Taking a dig at Advani, the Congress general secretary said had Advani been a strong leader he should have resigned then. “He is now saying all this when the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is not in a position to defend himself on the Kandhahar episode. Also a strong leader does not talk about Jinnah in Pakistan,” said Gandhi.

The Congress general secretary accused the BJP for “ignoring the needs of farmers and the poor”.

Addressing a well-attended gathering, Gandhi said the BJP completely ignored farmers and workers who are actually the harbinger of development.

Taking a swipe at the BJP’s slogan of India Shining in the 2004 elections, Gandhi said only a few urbane households shone while the poor, the Dalits and tribals suffered during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance five years ago.

“When we came to power, we promised to work for the uplift of the poor and in the five years of the United Progressive Alliance rule we proved that we are the actual party of the poor,” Gandhi said.

Heaping praise on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gandhi said several pro-poor schemes were launched by Dr Singh in the five years in office.

“The prime minister started the biggest employment guarantee scheme in the country. Our government announced the Rs 70,000 crore package to write off debts incurred by farmers and Dr Singh started the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Mid-day Meal programme for each student,” he said.

The young Gandhi also blamed the BJP for adopting “double standards on the nuclear deal issue”.

Criticising the BJP for calling Manmohan Singh a weak prime minister, Gandhi said Singh went ahead with the nuclear deal without caring about the Left’s threat to withdraw support because it was crucial for India’s energy and technological needs.

He said it was only because of Singh that Pakistan government, for the first time, accepted that the terrorists involved in Mumbai attack last year were from their country.