Admitting that fight against terrorism is important, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserted on Friday that fighting underdevelopment in the country is more important. "It is true that fight against terrorism is important, but ... it is more important to fight underdevelopment in India," Gandhi said during his first election rally at Purulia in West Bengal.
Accusing the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front government of ignoring problems of the economically backward sections in this part of the state, Gandhi said, "there is more hunger in Purulia than in the entire country. The state government has been forgetting this district which is one of the most backward in India," Gandhi alleged in his 20-minute speech.
"Your state government has been forgetting you and your problems.. central funds for development programmes do not reach you," he added. In support of his contention, the Congress leader told the gathering that 40 per cent of central funds for West Bengal remained unutilised. "There is not even 20 days work among the 100 days under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ... Only 950 of four lakh people have got job cards under this programme. Look at Andhra Pradesh which has computerised data on those who have got employment," he said. West Bengal goes to three-phase polls beginning April 30.
"So long central funds will not reach you for your benefit, the poor and backward people will continue to suffer and remain deprived," Gandhi said. Stating that the United Progressive Alliance in the last five years worked for the poor, dalits, adivasis and economically and socially backward classes, he said, "The UPA undertook the world's largest employment guarantee scheme and the Adivasi Bill was passed in Parliament, guaranteeing tribals rights over land. The Congress-led government also introduced the mid-day meal scheme for school students all over the country," he added.
On the nuclear deal, the Congress leader said, it was signed as the country needed more power. "We want to meet the power shortfall as without power there can be no development." Criticising the Left, particularly the ruling Left Front in West Bengal for opposing the deal, he said, "India has attained international importance, we cannot be subjugated or pressurised by any force."