In a clear indication of the Congress’ focus on young voters for the general elections, its vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asserted that a “government of the youth” would come to power in 2014.
“Elections are approaching… In 2014, a government of the youth will be formed that will change the country. It will bring change by empowering the last man in the queue,” he said.
Addressing rallies in Muslim-dominated Aligarh and Rampur districts of western UP, the 43-year-old showcased the food security and land acquisition laws while accusing the Opposition of trying to block these welfare schemes. “Efforts were made to create hurdles... We were stopped by the Opposition. Even Parliament was not allowed to function,” he said.
This drew a sharp rebuttal from the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, who cited rural development minister Jairam Ramesh’s statement in Lok Sabha complimenting her for supporting the land acquisition bill. “Mr Rahul Gandhi, please have courage and speak the truth,” she tweeted.
Also attacking the UP regime, Gandhi said, “They say it (food law) should be implemented in UP after the 2014 polls. I think they are scared the scheme brought by Congress would hurt them electorally.”
He also cornered the ruling Samajwadi Party — which provides outside supports to the UPA government — over last month’s communal riots. “I went to Muzaffarnagar. The sight was horrible. I met Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and people of other communities. They denied having any disputes.”
“People are made to fight for political gains... Hindus and Muslims are made to fight each other. The common people don’t want to fight. There are such political forces who feel if there is no fight, they will not win.”
He went on: “What is the UP government doing? Is there any development taking place here? Are the laptops being distributed free really working?”
Stressing that UP can progress only under Congress rule, he added: “SP aur BSP se ye kaam nahi hone wala (SP and BSP cannot bring development to UP).”
State minister and SP leader Azam Khan shot back, “He is right that political forces are behind the Muzaffarnagar riots... Congress has a history of orchestrating riots.” He added, “Rahul is feeling insecure in Uttar Pradesh. Our laptop scheme is making him uneasy.”
The Congress vice-president also spoke of the timing of his recent outburst against the now-shelved ordinance protecting convicted MPs/MLAs from disqualification.
“Does one have to wait for a suitable time to speak the truth?” he asked.