‘Development, corruption in U.P. merit more attention than calling me an outsider'

The Rahul Gandhi-Uma Bharti slugfest ahead of the State Assembly elections continued with the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister asking the Congress general secretary not to deviate from serious issues in Uttar Pradesh like development and corruption, which merited more attention than calling her an “outsider.”

Taking strong exception to the use of objectionable words by some other Congress leaders, she reminded Mr. Gandhi of his lineage.

“Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and even Sonia Gandhi have never used insulting language against me,” Ms. Bharti told journalists at the BJP headquarters here on Saturday.

Indicating that the quota within quota announced by the UPA government would be made an election issue, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader reminded Mr. Gandhi that 4.5 per cent reservation for the Muslims was announced despite his claim at a rally in Phulpur that caste and religious politics would not be allowed in Uttar Pradesh. A Minister later said that 9 per cent reservation would be given to the Muslims, Ms. Bharti added.

“Divisive tactics”

Accusing the Congress and Mr. Gandhi of trying to divide Hindus and Muslims, Ms. Bharti said the issue would be settled before the people of the State. She also questioned the silence of Chief Minister Mayawati and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh on the issue.

She alleged that the Congress, SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party were hand in glove. “If I had not spoken against the decision, a dacoity would have been committed on the 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes,” she said.

Ms. Bharti was recently given the go-ahead to contest the U.P. elections from Charkhari, Mahoba district.

Countering Mr. Gandhi's accusation that Ms. Mayawati's elephant was eating all the money, she said the Centre was to blame for feeding the elephant. Stating that the guilty in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam should be arrested, the BJP leader said that if this did not happen then it would show that the BSP and the SP were one with the UPA government.