BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik campaigns at Remuna constituency in Balasore on Monday. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, April 14: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today sharpened his attack on the Naveen Patnaik government and asked people to throw it out of power as it had failed to bring any development despite being given liberal assistance from the Centre.
“The BJD is not intent on development of common people. The benefits of industrialisation are being pocketed by a selected band of few, while the common men are left in the lurch,” said the Nehru-Gandhi scion.
Without naming Rahul, BJD president Naveen Patnaik, on the other hand, targeted the Congress and the BJP during his whirlwind visit to various pockets of Mayurbhanj, Balasore and Keonjhar districts. “Time has come for the national parties to move out of the state. The BJD will get more seats this time,” said Naveen.
With only 24 hours left for the campaign, the BJP stepped up its campaign and roped in Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhry to campaign for party leader Bijoy Mohapatra in Mahakalapada constituency. Yesterday, Naveen had toured the area and promised to take care of the interests of Bengali migrants.
Rahul, who visited the state for the second time during the campaign, targeted the BJD and for the first time skipped attacking the BJP. “The general election this time has turned into a fight of ideologies. The BJD is not intent of development of the common people. The Congress is ideologically committed towards industrialisation for overall development of the common men. The BJD’s ideology stands on the contrary,” he said.
Urging people to give Naveen a break this time, Rahul said: “The state is endowed with rich mineral wealth. But, its people continue to be poor due to poor governance. Odisha is languishing at the bottom as far as poverty index is concerned. Naveen has achieved nothing in his 14-year rule.”
Rahul said how the Centre was liberal in giving the best fiscal aid to the state and still its benefits had eluded the people of Odisha. “Public money and funds earmarked for the poor and lower-middle class people have been laundered by the Odisha government. It will be ploughed back to the people’s pocket if the Congress comes back to the government,” he said.
Braving scorching sun and humidity, an impressive crowd gathered at a local stadium in Jagatsinghpur. The Congress has fielded Bibhu Prasad Tarai for the Lok Sabha seat. Tarai, the sitting Lok Sabha member, had won the elections in 2009 as a CPI nominee. This time, there is no alliance between the BJD and the Left parties. Tarai has left the party and joined the Congress on the eve of the polls. Pitted against him are Kulamani Samal of the BJD and Baidhar Mallick of the BJP.
Rahul attacked the Naveen government as chorus of “Rahul Gandhi zindabad” echoed across the venue. “I had come here to catch a glimpse of Rahul. I had seen his father Rajiv and his grandmother Indira at election meetings,” said 65-year-old Radhakanta Samal from Kujang.
Moved by the response of the crowd, Rahul reiterated that welfare measures would be launched for the 70 crore people belonging to the lower-middle class. He also said how the Congress had taken vow to rechristen the country into a manufacturing hub such as China and promised ensuring jobs for the state’s youth.
At his meetings, Naveen attacked the Congress and the BJP without uttering their names. He listed his government’s various programmes and achievements.
“The BJD government, during its tenure, has taken various steps to protect the interests of various classes and communities through schemes. Requirements to strengthen health, education, encourage woman and farmer community have been fulfilled through various schemes,” Naveen said.