Addresses four election rallies, boosts morale of party

Rahul Gandhi, into his first election campaign after being appointed Congress vice-president, on Monday, called upon voters in Tripura to end the Left Front rule in the State and vote for an alliance of the Congress, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra and the National Conference of Tripura in the Assembly elections to be held on Thursday.

Addressing four election rallies, he said the Left Front government was an “all-round failure.”

“The Union government has been sanctioning schemes and funds to execute development activities, but the State is behind in the national development index,” he told a huge gathering at Sonamura, 65 km south of here.

In almost similar speeches in Hindi, at Sonamura, Santir Bazar in south Tripura, Dharmanagar in north Tripura and at Khayerpur, near Agartala, Mr. Gandhi alleged that the long rule of the Left Front had failed to provide employment to the youth, eradicate poverty and implement welfare schemes.

He said the Congress would implement the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations for State government employees and give benefits to security personnel of the State on a par with those of the Central forces.

“We will implement whatever is said in our election manifesto,” he told a rousing crowd at Khayerpur.

He denied rumours that the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had a tacit understanding. The CPI(M) had “confiscated” the rights of the common people and even for simple reasons, they were made to visit the party office.

“My mother [Sonia Gandhi] could not come for the campaign as she is sick, but she has asked me to take part actively in the election campaign,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi said he would attend the central election rally in Agartala and another at Kumarghat in north Tripura on Tuesday.

He said the Congress, with the support of the people, could rout the communists in Kerala and caused their defeat in Bengal. “It is now time for us to repeat that in this State. The Communists are nowhere, except in China and Tripura,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi’s visit has come as a morale booster to the State Congress leaders after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi called off their trips. Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and other leaders from Delhi and the north-eastern States are expected for the rally in Agartala.