Six days after the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, slammed Rahul Gandhi for the package the latter initiated for Bundelkhand, the Congress vice-president on Wednesday said he wished the region to be heavily industrialised and connected to the rest of the world.
He called upon the people of the region to dream big and accused the UP government of not letting the benefits of the Centre's Rs 3,000 crore package reach the people.
"You want a railway line, I want Bundelkhand on the world map, wedged with the world," Gandhi said at a public rally.
Gandhi also held out the Rajasthan model as the one to be adopted for the region.
"We have sent thousands of crores for Bundelkhand, but it did not reach you. I met farmers who told me wells were left half dug, and roads were not built."
He said Rajasthan, as arid as Bundelkhand with a fair share of infertile land, would be an industrial hub after the industrial corridor between Delhi and Mumbai was completed.
"Five years from now Rajasthan will have highest rate of employment. Bundelkhand can be made a prime centre for industry," Gandhi said.
"Build pressure on your (state) government to industrialise Bundelkhand and bring jobs. The SP government promised you jobs in the assembly elections. Can someone say he got a job?"
Responding to Modi's statement "I will change the face and fate of Bundelkhand", Gandhi said, "We delivered, others floundered." Gandhi's choice of Rath - one of most backward places in Bundelkhand - is aimed at neutralising the BJP, which seeks upper caste-backward alignment as a winning equation. Gandhi did not name the party in his speech.