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Sonia begins Bihar polls campaining; accuses PM Modi of 'narrow-mindedness'

Attacking PM and BJP, Congress Prez Sonia Gandhi asked people to reject those who divide society.

PTI| Updated: Oct 04, 2015, 00:37 AM IST
Sonia begins Bihar polls campaining; accuses PM Modi of 'narrow-mindedness'

Gaya/Bhagalpur: In a strident attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday accused him of "narrow-mindedness" and practicing "low-level politics" by attacking his political rivals from foreign soil.

Addressing a poll rally in Bihar's Wazirganj, she blamed the "wrong" policies of his government for "breaking the back of the poor".

"No other Prime Minister has ever criticised and sullied the image of his political rivals on foreign soil. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done so, showing his narrow mindedness and low-level politics. When he does not bother about the dignity of Bihar or the nation, will he be concerned about your dignity," she said.

Questioning the Prime Minister on fulfilling his election promises, she asked the people whether the account holders of Jan Dhan Yojna have got Rs 5,000 when they opened their accounts under the scheme.

"Did you get the money? How many of you have got it? Nobody has got it. What happened to his promise?" she asked.

The Congress President said the future of both Bihar and the country would be determined by the outcome of the crucial polls in the state.

Gandhi described Modi as an expert in packaging and repackaging the schemes of the previous government and 'misleading' people through his package for the state.

Accusing the Prime Minister of going back on his promises made during Lok Sabha polls, the Congress president criticised a number of schemes launched by the NDA government like Jan Dhan Yojna and criticised it for "sky rocketing" prices of pulses.

"Will those who have set aside all their previous promises, fulfil the fresh ones they are making now. No. They will not fulfil them at all. For us, making promises is not a poll 'jumla' (phrase)," she said, alluding to BJP chief Amit Shah's remarks on Modi's promise on blackmoney.

Voters of Bihar will decide whether India would move towards "divisiveness or harmony", she said at a poll rally in Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district as she tore into Modi's 16-month rule which she described "harmful" for the country.

Calling the ensuing Assembly elections as "decisive", Gandhi said, "Bihar is at crucial crossroads. From here will be determined the future of both Bihar and the country. You have to decide whether from here on the country will move towards divisiveness or harmony."

Asking people to choose whether they are with secular forces or those which divide the country, she said, "Modi is trying to mislead the people of Bihar. The package he announced is more farcical than real. What is the truth of this package?

"Prime Minister, an expert in packaging and repackaging, has simply rehashed old schemes of previous governments and presented them as a new package. What not he has said to belittle the people of Bihar."

Gandhi also raked up the issue of reservation, which has become a major talking point in Bihar polls against the backdrop of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's call for review of the quota policy.

Without taking RSS' name, Gandhi said, "there is match fixing going on between Nagpur and BJP. But I want to tell you that Congress is committed to Constitutional provisions on SC, ST and OBC quotas."

Targeting the Prime Minister on his foreign trips, she said, "Narendra Modi loves going abroad very frequently. He loves embracing famous people but he has no time for the poor. He should go abroad but should stop playing politics of pretension with the people who reposed faith in him."

Taunting Modi "for spending more time abroad than at home", the Congress President said had repackaged old schemes of the previous government and represented them as new packages because he was an "expert in packaging and repackaging".

Gandhi said, "Modi is discriminating against opposition chief ministers and the states ruled by them. He talks of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' (development of all), but do people in these states not belong to the country."

She also reminded people of the rising unemployment, budget cuts in social welfare schemes and low MSP for farm produce to ask the gathering at the rally what the Modi rule had yielded for the poor.

Reminding people of the "ill-effects" of 15 months of Modi rule on the country, she exhorted people to put all their strength to defeat NDA, she said, "What all did he not say to belittle the people of Bihar. But he does not know that you are all aware and know about his political intentions."

Hailing people of the area, where BJP candidates were defeated both in last Lok Sabha polls and assembly bypolls, she said, "You have not believed in the hollow promises of Narendra Modi and have rejected BJP's policies."

The Congress chief said Nitish Kumar is a chief minister with a clean image. She also took a dig at the NDA partners saying, "those who talked of secularism all along are today standing with communal forces".

Gandhi attacked Modi of trying to lure voters through false promises and asserted that those by the secular alliance were not like BJP's "Chunavi Jumla" (election sops).

"Our promises are not like their chunavi jumla (election sops) ... This is the difference between us (secular alliance) and them (BJP-led NDA)," Gandhi said.

"For us development is not a slogan," she said, reminding people of Congress' contribution in the country's independence.

Apparently referring to BJP's aggressive 'Congress mukt Bharat' campaign, she said "let them make any amount of efforts and speak lies, they will not be able to obliterate Congress history and its sacrifices in making country independent."

At Kahalgaon, Gandhi described the 17-month Modi government as "jan-virodhi" (anti-people) and pointed to "plight" of farmers, weavers and youths to prove her point.

Praising Nitish Kumar whose 'clean' image as CM has been lauded across the country, she appealed to the people to vote him to power again.

She hit out at Modi government for soaring price of pulses which she said has gone out of the reach of common man.

Despite the rise in the prices of pulses, it was the middlemen who had gained enormously and not the farmers, she said, adding that the condition applied for Bihar's Magadh region, known for growing pulses.

Her aggressive attack came a day after Prime Minister's poll rally at Banka.

Neither allies - Chief Minister Nitish Kumar nor RJD President Lalu Prasad were present at her meetings as they were busy in campaigning elsewhere. Congress general secretary CP Joshi and PCC chief Ashok Choudhary accompanied Gandhi.