Militant link slur on Cong

Shillong, Feb. 13: The BJP today accused the Congress of using militants to sway voters in the Garo hills region, fuelling heat to monotonous electioneering in Meghalaya.

The BJP, which has put up 13 candidates for the February 23 Assembly polls, however, refrained from substantiating the allegation and shied away from lodging any formal complaint to the Election Commission.

"In its manifesto, the Congress had pledged to eradicate the scourge of militancy in the state. How can it do so when the party is using militants (to win this election)?" former BJP MP Kiren Rijiju said after releasing the party manifesto here.

Rijiju, who is the party in-charge for the state elections, also said the Congress had no "moral authority" to speak about eradication of militancy when cadres from militant groups are being utilised for the polls.

Asked to substantiate on the allegation, he said, "These militants are being used in certain pockets across Garo hills. Grassroots workers are being targeted. The state authorities know very well."

However, while stating that till today there has been no "direct threat" against BJP candidates in Garo hills, he said it was difficult to obtain written complaints from the villagers there.

At the same time, he appealed to other political parties to lodge complaints if their candidates or party workers are being intimidated by militants.

But the Congress reacted by saying the BJP was making the allegation with an aim to garner media attention.

"The BJP has no stakes in this election, no standing, no organisation and no background of any serious political exercise in the state. The allegation was made to simply draw the attention of the media. Beyond that, it should not be taken with any kind of seriousness," AICC general secretary, who is in-charge of Meghalaya, Mukul Wasnik, told reporters.

Moreover, Rijiju said his party would improve its tally in the upcoming polls. The party had three legislators in 1998, two in 2003 and one in 2008. "Apart from an improvement in our tally, our vote share will also increase. The response from the people is encouraging," the BJP leader, who had recently campaigned in Garo hills, added.

Although the party has no formal alliance with other political parties, he said in the areas where BJP has not set up candidates, its well-wishers have been appealed to vote for non-Congress candidates.

Lambasting the Congress-led government, Rijiju said the people in the government have been the fountainhead of all corrupt activities in the state.

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