Kickstarting the construction work of the Eastern freight Corridor, UPA chairperson and AICC president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday lashed out at such forces trying to whip up religion sentiments to capture power in the coming elections, in an oblique attack against the Bharatiya Janata Party's renewed agenda of constructing the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya at its national conclave.
" Those who whip up religious sentiments for grabbing power are betraying peoples' sentiments. They even do not shy away from using God's name for vested interests," she said, at a railway function attended by railway Minister Lalu Prasad, former chief minister rabri Devi and other union ministers. The public mood at the gathering was spontaneous as people jostled to get a glimpse of Sonia, who readily obliged by waving frequently at the crowd. Hundreds of RJD and Congress flags fluttering at the stands was another hihghlight of the show, which looked more like a pre-Election rally.
Incidentally, Lalu, who shared dais with AICC president for the first time in any railway function in Bihar, spared no opportunity to praise Sonia for her development vision and even compared her to " Sher Shah Suri".
At the same time, Lalu obliquely made reference to the Congress's deicison of not forming a national alliance with UPA parents stating that " we (read UPA allies) will always remain united.
But even if we separate, we will come together after the polls," he said, even as he switched track to praise the AICC president for conceptualizing the dedicated freight corridor mega project. "Soniaji is doing what Sher Shar Suri had done tto construct the GT road," lalu said. The RJD chief did not forget to raise the nuke deal issue insisting that UPA had staked its government for country's larger interest of getting thermal power. But it was apparently Lalu was making an assertion about his key role in saving the government, in the presence of Sonia.
As a matter of fact, Sonia 's ten minute speech was marked by political rhetoric as she not only spelled out the Congress's focus on 'unity" to fight terrorism and usher growth but insisted that UPA government's in its tenure had brought transformation in the country through its development agenda.
" Today India is facing less impact of global recession due to sustained focus of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on development," she said, while highlighting how the UPA had catered to the needs of every section of the people from farmers to dalits , minorities and women by recalling how UPA had brought transparency in governance by bringing the Right to Information Act. " It is a revolutionary step. It has given people to fix accountability on the public representatives," she said, while referring to other projects like loan waiver of farmers and implementation of NREGA.
Signifjcnaly, Lalu in his speech made the right political noises slamming the state government of creating obstables in providing land for railway projects while taking a dig at Chief minister Nitish Kumar for supoorting the saffron forces, who were trying to divide the nation. Lalu also talked of the the Eastern Freight Corridor stating that the commencedmnt of work in the portion in Bihar ( from New Karwandiya to New Ganjkhwaja approxmnetly76 km) would bring employment and new avenues for the people of Rohtas, Bhabua and old Shahabad districts. He also announced that work on the western dedicated freight corridor would start soon.
In the same vein, he talked of naxalism stating that extremism had spread its wings in the NDA government due to faulty policies, obliquey referring to the Jamui attacks. " Government should talks with naxals. In my tenure, naxalims was checked," Lalu said, adding that as a railway minister he had ggiven a boost to industrilisation by taking over the Dalimiyanagar factory where a couples factory and bogey manufacturing unit would come up. Significanlty, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi who appeared in any public function after a long gap went overboard in slamming the state government stating that " Bihar needs a UPA government again so that poor and downtrodden could lead their life with dignitiy,". She also took a pitshot at the Vikas yatra stating that the Chief Minister was undertaking the yatra without any'development' in the state, getting a round of applause from the crowd. Union ministers Kanti Singh, Meira Kumar, Auranganbad MP, Nikhil Kumar and Congres in-charge of Bihar, Iqbal Singh and BPCC chief Anil Sharma were also present at the function.