Let three states lead the way, says Jaitley

Shillong, Feb. 14: The Opposition BJP today exhorted the people of the Northeast to "show the way" by voting the Congress out of power as a prelude to the Lok Sabha elections .

As Tripura voted today, and as Meghalaya and Nagaland prepare to vote on February 23, Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said the time had come for the people of India to "earn freedom from this Congress politics".

Speaking at an election rally here, Jaitley said: "Let the Northeast show the way to the country by defeating the Congress in the three states so that the rest of India will learn a lesson."

Lambasting the Congress-led government at the Centre, the BJP leader said the present UPA government was suffering from a leadership crisis, policy paralysis and credibility.

"There is anger, disgust and cynicism in the country because the leadership is not able to inspire us," he thundered.

Listing out the scams which the UPA government has been accused of, Jaitley said: "While the bribe-giver on the helicopter scam has been arrested in Italy, the bribe-takers are roaming free in India."

He also said even if only 10 per cent from the Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G scam had been used to develop road infrastructure in the Northeast, the region would have seen better connectivity.

While centring on the Northeast, Jaitley pointed out that the illegal immigration from across Bangladesh would drastically impact the demography, language and culture of the indigenous people.

"You cannot allow to be destroyed or disturbed," Jaitley said while referring to the ethnic violence in Assam last year.

Taking on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said: "Even if the Prime Minister has been an MP from Assam for many years, the Northeast has never been on top of his agenda. It is neither at the bottom. It (Northeast) does not exist at all on his agenda."

Singh will be campaigning here tomorrow for the ruling Congress which is trying to secure an absolute majority in the elections.

Mahila Congress stand: The Mahila Congress today asserted that the indigenous people of Meghalaya will vote the Sonia Gandhi-led party back to power with an absolute majority.

The president of the All-India Mahila Congress (AIMC), Anita Verma, who arrived here today to campaign for party candidates, stated for the hill people, the national issues would not have an impact in the elections. "It is the local issues which are more important," she said.

On why the Congress was confident of attaining an absolute majority in Meghalaya, Verma said: "Governance has been good and acceptable to the people. The people also have confidence in the Congress and they want to be under the umbrella which is giving them protection."

Asked whether it was a sign of desperation within the Congress to reclaim power by bringing in several star campaigners, the Congress leader differed by saying the party leaders had been sent to bridge connection with grassroots workers and also to inspire them.

She also said that the women in matrilineal Meghalaya are "politically aware" and appealed to them to vote for the Congress so that their aspirations would be fulfilled.

Verma said the party which has a direct connection with the Centre always gets more assistance and patronage.

Further, she said, the Mahila Congress in Meghalaya has been lately coming up and AIMC secretary Poonam Rani Wangkhem has been touring the different corners of the state to interact and inspire women at the grassroots.

On the prospects of the six women Congress candidates, Verma expressed confidence that almost all of them would be voted to the Assembly.

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