'Minorities under attack'

Published on May 05, 2004 07:48 PM IST

Sonia Gandhi speaking at a rally in Kerala said religious minorities under attack, citing history books being rewritten as a veiled attack.

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HT Image
PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Kochi, Kerala

Continuing her tirade against BJP and NDA, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today alleged religious minorities in the country "have now become their targets of attack."

"Our religious minorities have become targets of their attack. Their institutions are under seige. Textbooks are being re-written," she said at an election meeting at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.

She said while the Congress had built the Modern India, the foundations of this has been "shaken" during the five year rule of the BJP-LED NDA. "Unemployment has increased as never before, farmers and plantation workers are under distresss and the middle class are finding their earning wiped due to various scams," she said.

Braving pouring rain, hundreds of Congress workers who had gathered at the venue shouted 'Sonia Gandhi ki Jai' as she began her speech.

Gandhi, who was to have hopped to Thiruvalla after her meeting at Thiruvananthapuram, dropped it following inclement weather.

Gandhi said after Rajiv Gandhi took over as Prime Minister following the assassination of Indira Gnadhi, he began working towards building a new India. New educational, telecom and IT policies came into being and Panchayati Raj system was started and he worked relentlessly for progress.

"It is sad that BJP is taking all the credit for these activities. They were the first to attack Rajiv and every single policy of Congress," she said.

After independence all developments in the key areas were the direct result of the policies of Pundit Nehru and Indira Gandhi, she said and asked what claim can they take for the good work done by Congress?

BJP-NDA had spent crores of rupees for their 'selfish interests', she charged.

A strong central Government was essential for creating lakhs of jobs for the youth and for ensuring a safe future for the farmers, plantation and industrial workers, she said reminding the people that their vote would be crucial as it would a deciding factor to outset the coalition, which, she said, had 'ruined' the country.

"Vote for forces of secularism and force of economic growth," the Congress chief said.

Kerala has been a 'shinning' example of social peace where people of different faiths live together in mutual harmony. The state has been a pioneer in education, health, social security aspects, Tourism and IT, she said.

"Only Congress can unite the people while other parties divide the country," she added.

During her nearly twenty minute speech in English, which was translated into Malayalam by AC Jose, sitting MP from Thrissur, Gandhi made no mention of the Left parties or the CPI(M)-led LDF, which is the main rival of the Congress-led UDF in the polls in Kerala.

Sonia, who was all praise for the three-year-old UDF Government in Kerala, claimed it had given a 'new' direction and image. Investments have started coming into the state.

State Chief Minister AK Antony said the excitement of the people, who had thronged to hear Sonia Gandhi despite the rains, should be reflected in the ballots and May end should see the end of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre.

AICC observers - Ahmed Patel, Margaret Alva, KPCC acting President, PP Thankachan, Erankaulam DCC President, KP Dhanapalan, were among those present.

Sonia also introduced Jose, who is seeking re-election, and three debutants -Padmaja Venugopal, Dr Edward Edezhath and Jose K Mani - UDF candidates from Mukundapuram, Ernakulam and Muvattupuzha respectively to the gathering.

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