Congress will fight against RSS and not BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections as the Sangh is now in control of the saffron party, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said today.
"The next general elections will be fought directly between Congress and the RSS and not BJP under Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial nominee. What has taken place in BJP recently has had the stamp of the RSS," the Rural Development Minister told reporters here. "The key of BJP's electioneering in the 2014 general elections will be handled by the Nagpur-headquarted RSS too," he said.
He alleged that it would make efforts to communally polarise Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in particular as part of its electoral strategy and the process had already begun with the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts in UP. He said Congress, on its part, would run its election campaign on positive agenda and highlight its achievements of enactment of five landmark legislations including Food Security Act and Land Aquisition Act aimed at catering to the aspirations of the poor.
Seeking to downplay a series of poll surveys projecting an improved performance of BJP, Ramesh said, "Congress and BJP will face each other directly in only seven states, including Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan and Karnataka, as BJP does not exist in other parts of the country."
With Modi set to be a bug bear for the Congress with his development model in Gujarat, Ramesh said the CAG report had recently put the Modi government in dock for prevalence of malnutrition among majority of children and poor sex ratio.
Slamming the BJP prime ministerial candidate for his recent remarks giving primacy to toilets than temple, the Congress leader said the Gujarat government had falsely claimed to have 84% coverage in sanitation which in the subsequent census report turned out to be 34%. "It means that only one-third of the rural people have toilet facilities in Gujarat," Ramesh said, adding that there had been no improvement in per capita income of Gujarat over the past three years and the state remained rooted in ninth position among the states.
Stating that there were shortcomings in the Gujarat Model of Modi, the Congress leader gave credit to the people, businessmen, industrialists for development and prosperity which he said had existed even before Modi took over as chief minister in 2000.
To a question whether Congress will ally with RJD or JD(U) in Bihar, Ramesh said the state unit would take the call. On the special status demand being raised by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Congress leader said the Raghuram Rajan panel had submitted a report which was being studied by the Finance Ministry. He said that there was need for devolution of more funds to Bihar and other backward states for development and welfare works, but the states also must properly utilise the funds. For instance, Bihar was granted Rs 7,000-8,000 crore under MNREGA which, if properly utilsed, could have generated rural employement and led to development and prosperity of villagers, he said.
On the demand being made by Bihar and other states to increase the wage under MNREGA as per the states' minimum wage rate, Ramesh said he has apprised the Prime Minister of it even as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. Ramesh said Bihar would gain after implementation of the Food Security Act as its foodgrain allocation would be doubled to 56 lakh tonnes against 28 lakh tonnes at present.
Stating that the Congress-led UPA government was committed to ensure food security of all poor and downtrodden families, he said that the new list of BPL/Antodaya card holders would be published by December 31 this year.
On the new Land Acquisition Act, he said, farmers, tribals and other landholders would be major beneficiaries of the landmark law. "The earlier Act had created discontent among farmers and tribals catalysing Maoist insurgency. The new law has given primarcy to the rights and interests of all stakeholders and those wanting to acquire land would have to pay at double the rate of market price in the urban areas and four times in rural areas," he said.