Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday attacked Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh for failing to contain Maoist violence and curbing poverty in the state, while lauding her party for "sacrifices" and "pro-poor" development policies.
Addressing an election rally in Kondangaon in Bastar region, her first this election season, Sonia said the BJP government in the state was good at making "only tall claims" contrary to "reality on the ground".
"They (BJP) only promise, we (Congress) do the work," she said.
Congress is desperately trying to regain its hold in Bastar region, where tribals form a majority, as 11 of the 12 assembly seats in region are held by the BJP.
"Owing to their bad governance, poverty has risen in the mineral-resource rich state and its performance in health, education or other sectors has worsened. The women are feeling unsafe and subjected to atrocities," she said.
She recalled the massacre of several Congress leaders in a Maoist ambush on May 25 in Bastar and said Raman Singh had accepted his failure to prevent the attack.
"What is the point of shedding crocodile tears now," Sonia said, striking an emotional chord with the local residents.
"So many people were killed in the Maoist violence. My colleagues in Congress sacrificed their lives. We are feeling their absence in a big way today," Sonia said. The Congress president said many Maoist-hit areas lacked proper roads even though UPA spared no effort in supporting Raman Singh's fight against the Left-wing extremism.
She said the people of the state were migrating to other states because the benefits of UPA's flagship job scheme MGNREGA and Forest Rights Act, which ensures ownership rights over forest produce to the forest-dwelling tribals, have not reached them.
Modi attacks Sonia for 'deceiving voters'
Gujarat chief minister and BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday trained guns at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, asking her "not to deceive voters" in Chattisgarh.
"You are right, madam. You do everything without saying anything. You did the coal scam without saying anything. In the 2G scam also, you did not say anything. Scams took place beneath the earth, on the earth and in the air without you saying anything," he said.
Modi was canvassing for his Chattisgarh counterpart Ram Singh in Kanker, two hours after Sonia told a rally in Kondagaon "they (BJP) make promises while we (Congress) work". He also addressed rallies at Bastar-Jagdalpur and Rajnandgaon.
The Gujarat strongman said Singh had achieved a high rate of development amidst Maoist violence, a fact admitted by the Centre. At current pace, the state will surpass Gujarat's development in the next five years, he said.
Addressing the largely tribal audience at Jagdalpur, Modi said, "I salute the people of Chhattisgarh for rejecting Congress government. Vajpayeeji formed a separate ministry for tribals in Union cabinet, while Congress doesn't care about the tribals."
"Why did Chhattisgarh progress while Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were left behind? Because Congress ruled the two states," he said comparing them to BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh
Without naming him, Modi called Nitish an arrogant chief minister who did not act sensitively towards the victims of serial blasts that targeted BJP's rally at Patna on October 27.
Comparing Nitish to Raman Singh, Modi said, "Raman Singh met victims, set up an investigation committee (to probe Maoist attack that killed top Congress leaders). In Bihar, the government was behaving as if it was happy. See how a sensitive chief minister behaves and how an arrogant chief minister behaves."
Modi and Nitish were locked in a bitter exchange of words following the blasts that killed six and injured dozens, with the BJP accusing the Bihar government of laxity in security and the latter comparing the rally to "garbage dumped in the state".
Despite Congress' protest in the past, Modi once again addressed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi as "shahzada (prince). In his speeches, he has been calling the Congress-led UPA government as "Delhi Sultanate", an allusion to the rule of Muslim sultans in medieval India.
"The shahzada in Delhi is hoodwinking people by saying they have brought the food security law; food security was first implemented by the BJP government in Chhattisgarh," Modi said.
IED's defused hours ahead of the rallies
A few hours ahead of the rallies of the two leaders, security forces recovered three powerful IEDs in Sukma and Narayanpur districts of Bastar, a vast and Maoist-affected region in south Chhattisgarh. Two improvised explosive devices of 25 kg each were found buried along the Dornapal-Chintalnar road in Sukma district and another explosive of 20 kg was found near the Orcha state highway in Narayanpur district. All the explosives were defused, said a police official.
"Owing to enhanced security operations, it is quite usual to trace one or two IEDs daily now. Across Bastar the Maoists have planted huge number of IEDs," Bastar inspector general of police Arun Gautam told Hindustan Times.
Chhattisgarh director general of police Ram Niwas the state police is has followed every security measure for political leaders visiting the state for election campaigning.
"Specialised forces have been deployed besides the usual troopers in higher strength and more officials been assigned the responsibility to maintain close supervision," Niwas told HT.
As many as 18 constituencies spread over eight districts in south Chhattisgarh will witness voting on November 11 while the remaining 72 segments will go into polls on November 19. As many as 985 candidates are in the fray for 90 seats.
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