| Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the Bettiah rally on Friday. Picture by Awadh Kishor Tiwari |
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday focused on the “divisive” politics of the BJP in her last election meeting in Bihar and dwelt on local issues.
“Bharatiya Janata Party wanted to deport all those from the country who ideologically do not agree with them,” she said, while addressing a rally at Babui Tola Maidan.
The rally was part of a campaign for Valmikinagar Congress candidate Purnamasi Ram.
Adding conviction, Sonia Gandhi said: “The BJP is adamant in destroying the Ganga-Jamuni culture of the country in the name of caste and religion. The Congress would continue its crusade for secularism in the country.”
She repeatedly asserted her commitment to keep secularism of the country intact, as it was a “conflict of two ideologies”. She asked a humble gathering of 15,000 people, braving the 35°C heat, to ensure the victory of the Congress-RJD candidates across the state “in order to form a secular government at the Centre”.
She took a dig at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s repeated corruption barb against the Congress.
“One who lives in a glass castle, should abstain from throwing stones at others because Narendra Modi’s ministry is filled with corrupt ministers,” she said.
The Congress president also trained guns at LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan for “strangulating secularism by joining hands with the BJP”.
She also tried to woo the Muslim voters of Valmikinagar (13 per cent) and informed them about the separate ministry for the minorities that functions under the UPA government.
Sonia informed the minorities about the various welfare schemes put on track by the party after “years of struggle”.
She weaved local issues in her speech by talking about Forest Act and tribals’ condition. Valmikinagar has a tiger reserve and has a sizeable tribal population called the Tharus.
By talking about the contributions of her party in enactment of the new Forest Act, Right to Information, Right to Education and Food Security Act in the country, Sonia tried to impress the Tharu population, as well as, a large number of people of West Champaran who live in and around the Valmiki Tiger Reserve. The Congress indirectly countered the allegation of the BJP regarding the three soldiers of the Indian Army, who were beheaded by their Pakistani counterpart recently. “A number of jawans were also killed during the NDA government. But it was never made a political issue by the Congress party,” she said. Speaking on corruption, a favourite theme of the BJP, Sonia said: “The UPA government has enacted rules under which many people, who were involved in corruption, are now rotting behind the bars.”
Party leaders such as Ambika Soni, Bihar Congress party in-charge Satyabrata Chaturvedi and state president Ashok Choudhary were among those present at the rally.