Congress will work towards resolving vexed Naga issue: Sonia



Dimapur: Congress on Thursday said it would work towards resolving the contentious Naga political issue at the earliest.

"It was the Congress-led UPA government that took the bold decision to invite NSCN-IM leaders for talks which was going on for a year now to ensure that peace was achieved," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said while formally launching the party campaign here for the February 23 Assembly elections in Nagaland.

She said if Congress is voted to power in the state, it would work towards finding a solution to the vexed political problem of the Nagas as early as possible.

"The Congress has always been committed to preserve the Naga identity and developing the Naga way of life," Gandhi, dressed in a colourful Naga mekhela (skirt) and shawl, told the rally here.

In her 15 minute speech, she recalled that it was her party which gave special status to Nagaland through Article 371(A) of the Constitution.

She said this was a historic opportunity for the Naga people as the Congress was committed to take the peace process forward and do the utmost to ensure that peace returned to Nagaland in a manner which was honourable and acceptable to all the sections of the people.

Gandhi said the experience of people of the state in the last 10 years under the ruling Naga People's Front-led Democratic Alliance is bad as it neglected and wasted opportunities.

"I believe Nagaland is ready for a change... A change for the better and a change for the good. Now is the time to bring Nagaland back to the path of true development, true growth and harmony," Gandhi said.

She said roads were in terrible shape, unemployment had increased, young people were frustrated while corruption had become institutionalised at all levels of governance in the state.

"Huge public funds being granted by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for agriculture, education, infrastructure, health service, water supply and electricity have been siphoned off by the NPF government," Gandhi alleged.

"Is it not true that the NPF-led DAN resorted to random and massive back door appointment in various departments after thousands of employees retired under the new retirement act?" she asked and alleged that Rs 89 crore granted by the Centre for development of tourism infrastructure in the state was misused.

"The result is nowhere as it has gone to the pockets of those in power," Gandhi said.

She also questioned the utilisation of Rs 72 crore for development of the Sovima Cricket Stadium and Rs 233 crore provided for rural electrification and said that these were just a few examples about the corruption of the NPF-led DAN government.

"They (NPF) have been misusing the generous grants from the central government," she said.

PTI