The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia blasts Modi ‘poison’

Pipalia (Rajkot), Aug. 25: Congress president Sonia Gandhi today kicked off her party’s election campaign from the BJP bastion in Saurashtra with a well-attended public meeting in this quake-devastated village, rebuilt by the Chhattisgarh government and renamed Rajiv Nagar.

Exhorting the electorate to overthrow the “communal, corrupt and insensitive government’’, Sonia condemned the Narendra Modi government for committing atrocities and spreading “communal poison”. She accused it of dividing the people on communal lines, thereby creating “deep wounds’’ that would take a long time to heal.

Lashing out at both the state and Centre — which she referred to as “scam-tainted’’ — Sonia said the BJP, in its four-and-a-half year rule, has not addressed the real problems of the people.

Referring to the rehabilitation and welfare of victims of the earthquake that had ravaged the state last year, she alleged that the huge foreign aid the government had received had been misused. This act of the BJP government was not only irresponsible, but also cruel, she added.

Stating that Congress activists would not tolerate such a corrupt government, she urged the people to take a pledge to overthrow the Modi administration. “I’m specifically addressing my sisters, who have to walk miles to fetch drinking water,’’ she said to resounding applause. “You should elect a government you can call your own and the government that understands people’s problems.”

The government, said Sonia, has created a climate of all round despondency, with industrialists, businessmen and virtually every section of the society highly demoralised. No one is willing to invest in Gujarat, once considered a highly progressive and pro-business state, she added.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi said his government was one of the first to respond to the calamity following the quake. It constructed 183 dwelling units for the quake victims of Pipalia, situated 85 km from Rajkot, at an estimated cost of Rs 3.30 crore that was raised from the tribals of the state, he informed.

State Congress chief Shankersinh Vaghela expressed his gratitude for the construction of Rajiv Nagar and said that while quake victims pleaded for a roof over their heads, Modi was more keen to hold elections.

Former state chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary said that during his party’s regime it had rebuilt and dedicated several quake-hit villages in Kutch, but the BJP government had failed to rebuild a single village. So much so, that nearly two years after the quake, the planning for four major towns in Kutch district — Anjar, Rapar, Bachhau and Bhuj — has not yet been finalised.

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