In a veiled but pointed attack on Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Congress President Sonia Gandhi charged on Tuesday that "those in power in Uttar Pradesh are hand-in-glove with criminal and anti-social elements" and that common citizens are living "in a state of utter terror and abject impoverishment".
At Bijnor – a region that "Jat" leader Chaudhary Ajit Singh might desire to put claims on – it was Mulayam that the Congress president chose to target when she said: "These are people that do not miss an opportunity to swear by socialism, but the policy governing their actions is the promotion of their self interests and those of their family members and friends". Uttar Pradesh has become an
, remarked Gandhi in her 20 minute speech - while refraining from taking names.
Uttar Pradesh was a state that provided a direction to the rest of the country, but all that has changed now, Gandhi said. "Society and polity has been split up by political leaders who pursue vested political interests. It is so sad; our heads hang down in shame at what is happening today," she added.
The atmosphere was one of palpable excitement at the rally. Virtual bedlam prevailed – and the
was threatening to get undone – with sections of the crowd making a desperate bid to surge forward to catch a glimpse of the Congress leader, as she alighted from her chopper. A huge amount of slogan shouting preceded the the Congress president's arrival at the podium – flanked by state Congress Chief Salman Khurshid and AICC General Secretary Ashok Gehlot.
At her first public rally at Bijnor – a Lok Sabha constituency once represented by BSP leader Mayawati – the Congress president did succeed in attracting a huge and enthusiastic crowd. At Mayawati's rally organised at the same venue on Sunday, not one-third the number of Muslims were present, remarked Ashok Madhup, a local scribe. The last occasion that Gandhi had toured Bijnor was in 1990, when she had accompanied late Rajiv Gandhi to visit victims affected by a communal riot.
Charging that central funds had not trickled down to the intended beneficiaries, the Congress president said that the UP Government must explain where the money has gone. Do they have proof that funds have been spent for the purpose intended? "Work gets done only when there is honesty and integrity within," she remarked.
Calling for solidarity and support for the cause of creating a "new future" for Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi said that a beginning could be made by ensuring the electoral defeat of those that pursued sectarian and casteist politics.
Reinforcing the Congress commitment for the oppressed, downtrodden, minorities and tribal sections, Gandhi referred to the welfare schemes launched by the Manmohan Singh Government. "Hundreds of crores have been disbursed to state governments. Instead of utilising this money, some leaders are conjuring up false allegations against others," she said.