Mandvi/Keshod: Accusing Narendra Modi government of discriminating Saurashtra region, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused it of making "tall" claims of development in Gujarat and said progress is nowhere to be seen and ruling BJP`s promises are "hollow and false".
Addressing two separate rallies in the state ahead of the first phase of voting in the Assembly Elections on December 13, Sonia charged that "they (Modi and BJP) have no interest in the poor and the common people but are only interested is development of its own and a select few people."
She addressed first rally in a village near Mandvi town of Surat district of South Gujarat and her second rally was in Keshod town of Junagadh district in Saurashtra region.
Sonia rubbed in the regional inequality issue in Gujarat saying, "Why Saurashtra region was being ignored when it came to development".
The issue of discrimination against Saurashtra was earlier also raised by former BJP leader Keshubhai Patel.
"The development which was promised in a big way is nowhere to be seen in this tribal land...Because what they promised were hollow and false," Sonia alleged addressing a huge poll rally at Mandvi.
"This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel who used to preach what they practiced. Now, there are people who give big advice but not follow them," she said taking on Modi without naming him.
The Congress chief refrained from directly attacking Modi, who in the run up to the elections had time and again personally targeted her party leaders. However, she raised the issue of performance of Modi government in the last ten years.
"It is unfortunate that despite being in power for the last one decade, this BJP government has failed to bring Narmada water for irrigation to Saurashtra," Gandhi said touching an another important issue of water in this election. Sonia said it is "shameful" that the BJP government is conjuring dreams that 110 dams of the region will be filled by Narmada water.
She was referring to Modi government`s Rs 10,000 crore SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) scheme.
Raising the issue of farmers’ suicide in recent past, she said, "It is painful that farmers had to end lives because of shortage of fertiliser, water and electricity for agriculture".
She alleged BJP has done "maximum injustice" to farmers of this region.
Nearly 4.5 lakh farmers are facing shortage of electricity and nearly 57 areas in the region are in the dark zone but the state government is selling electricity to other states, Sonia said.
She claimed fertiliser given by UPA government is handed over to industrialists as raw material and farmers have to purchase by paying them.
Despite UPA government`s decision to waive farmers` agriculture loan, farmers are in debt because of the state government policy, she alleged.
Raking up the issue of malnutrition, she charged 47 percent children are suffering from malnutrition and ten lakh youths are jobless while government employees are being exploited.
The Congress president said "it is unfortunate that false promises are made for getting mileage in elections".
"UPA government has been allocating 1000s of crores of rupees to various states, including Gujarat, without any bias. But nobody knows how this money is spent (in Gujarat)," she said. "Why is poverty still looming in the tribal population of the state? Why there is no change in the lives, position and financial condition of tribal," Sonia wondered.
There are around 30 tribal dominated constituencies in the eastern parts of the state, which were on the radar of the Congress president, while she pitched hard votes from there.
"There is no water in hilly villages of tribal areas, the BJP had shown you the dream of building 2.25 lakh lakes and dams... Where are they ?? Where is employment for the tribal people," she asked.
The AICC president also said that Congress was responsible for the development of South Gujarat. The roads which you are seeing here are made under the Prime Minister rural road scheme.
Sonia said that Congress stood with the people of Gujarat at the time of drought, earthquake and cyclones.
She alleged because of the policies of BJP government, the hardships of the common man have increased. "If the government attended to your problems, you would not have faced so many problems", she said.
The Congress chief said the UPA government had waived loans to the debt-ridden farmers but their condition in Gujarat has not changed because of the "anti-people" policies pursued by the BJP government.
She also alleged that there are so many unemployed youths, malnourished children because of lack of education and health in the state.
Gesturing towards the large number of women and girls, Sonia alleged "women in the state, who works shoulder to shoulder, are also being torched, exploited and being harassed in Gujarat where situation of law and order is deteriorating."
She emphasised on effecting change in Gujarat and said, "It is necessary to bring revolutionary change in Gujarat politics and only Congress can do that".
She appealed to the people to fight against the state government`s "injustice" to Saurashtra and elect Congress.
Gujarat will vote for the first phase of polls on December 13.