Slamming BJP for its "politics of India Shining," Rahul Gandhi today reached out to the poor and rural youths in Bundelkhand, hard-selling the UPA's flagship schemes of food security, land acquisition and job guarantee programme MNREGA.
The Congress Vice-President stressed on the unity of his party in the faction-ridden state unit and expressed confidence that it will form the next government in Madhya Pradesh, which will "not belong to a leader" but to the poor, youths and women.
"Bundelkhand has become a victim of the slogan of India shining. The politics of India Shining has ignored the screams of the people of Bundelkhand for development. Did you feel the glaze of India shining? This is politics of air-conditioner (those sitting in air-conditioned rooms), the politics of industrialists, they practise," Gandhi said while addressing an election rally in the state, where Congress has been out of power for a decade.
Gandhi, who has been focusing on the Bundelkhand region for quite some time and had also been instrumental in getting a financial package for the area, said farmers wanted to know where did the money sent by the Centre to dig wells go.
Interacting with the crowds gathered to hear him, Gandhi asked them whether they had felt any impact of the "India Shining politics".
"Youths are not happy, farmers are not happy, women are not happy," he said.
In a speech laced with anecdotes like dreams of a "sweating farmer" engaged in agricultural work that his sons or grandsons would some day fly in aeroplanes, to that of village women and youths, Gandhi briefly mentioned Indira Gandhi and said in contrast to BJP's politics of only development, Congress politics takes into account both things -- development as well empowering people.
Seeking to add a personal touch to his associating with people in Bundelkhand, Gandhi recalled that when he had first come to the region, he had suffered mosquito bites and when he had consumed water in a village, it had got his stomach upset.
"But I was happy. Politicians should know the hardships faced by people," he said.
BJP-led NDA had given slogan of 'India Shining' during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, which saw the UPA coming to power, bringing to an end the NDA rule at the Centre.
Gandhi claimed that the UPA regime had constructed three times more roads than those laid down during the BJP-led NDA rule, which keeps speaking about development and roads.
"We made three times more road than what were constructed during NDA's period. BJP did not construct as many airports as we did. We will make all those things, but the question is different. Who will feed the people who walk on these roads and work in these farms? Will they get food through roads and airports? Congress does its politics from two perspectives.
"On one hand, we talk about development and on the other hand we talk about empowering people. Indira Gandhi talked about 'roti, kapda aur makaan'. You used to say then we will eat half the bread and bring Congress to power. Now we have changed the slogan. We will have full bread and bring Congress to power. Whatever be the consequences, we are not going to desert the poor, the weaker sections and the women," he said.
Gandhi also attacked the Opposition, saying it was opposing the food security bill and asking from where will the money come. "They oppose when the poor demand food," he said.
Speaking about Congress' struggle to pass the land acquisition bill, he said his party was committed to ensuring that poor farmers get the value of their land at market rate.
"If the land of the poor is sold, he should get the market rate. If the rich get market rate, then farmers and labourers should also get market rate and the people working on that farmer's land should also be compensated," he said.
The Congress leader asked the youths gathered there whether they had got any advantage from the "India Shining politics," and asked them who among them had got employment.
Asserting that his party will put up a united fight this time in Madhya Pradesh, he said the party leaders of the state unit had given him an assurance regarding it.
Gandhi told the gathering that the government supported the region and had sent a package of Rs 3,000 crore for its development. He said the UPA government will keep sending money to the region so that Bundelkhand emerges as the pride of the country.