‘Congress will fight for the rights of the poor, the youth, women’

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said a government of the “aam aadmi” (common man) and the youth will be formed in 2014. “The government of the youth will ring in changes in the country,” he said.

Addressing back-to-back rallies in Aligarh and Rampur on Wednesday, he described women as India’s strength, adding that women and youth would change the country. “The Congress will fight for the rights of the poor, the youth and women.”

Mr. Gandhi was critical of the fact that the voice of the “aam aadmi” was not heard in the corridors of power. “The closed doors of the bureaucrats and politicians should be opened in order to ensure that the common man is given his rights,” Mr. Gandhi said in Rampur, where he also read out the mantra for electoral success — “for winning elections, help the poor.”

He ridiculed the political parties for not going to the poor and using the media for sheer publicity.

He attacked the “political parties,” who instigated the recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar. Though the “political parties” were not named by the Congress vice-president, but the reference to the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the specific context of the Muzaffarnagar communal clashes was quite obvious.

“Political leaders [rajneta] don’t die in riots, only the poor are killed, no leader was killed in Muzaffarnagar, poor people and a journalist died in the violence,” Mr. Gandhi said as he tried to strike an emotional chord with the people in the rallies addressed by him. His rallies have been dubbed as “dhanyavad rallies” (thanksgiving to UPA government for introducing people-oriented measures).

In his first public reaction on the communal violence, Mr. Gandhi referred to his Muzaffarnagar visit in September stating that Hindus and Muslims told him that there was no enmity among them and that the riots were engineered by political parties. Mr. Gandhi slammed attempts by parties to divide people along religious and caste lines.

Mr. Gandhi criticised the Akhilesh Yadav government for not implementing the Food Security Bill and took on the Samajwadi Party’s “Muslim face” and influential Minister, Mohammad Azam Khan, albeit without naming him, in his political backyard, Rampur.

The Congress leader assailed the closure of factories in Rampur, allegedly at the behest of the Urban Development Minister, and said the move not only harmed people’s interests but also development.

Mr. Gandhi ridiculed the U.P. government for the laptop distribution scheme when he said “the Government in Uttar Pradesh is working on computers.” Referring to the Food Security Bill, Mr. Gandhi said the SP government did not want to implement the measure.

On the Land Acquisition Bill, he said the move would not only benefit farmers but also farm labourers. He recalled the agitation in Aligarh (Tappal) and Bhatta Parsaul in 2011 in which several farmers died. He said the Congress fought for the farmers in Aligarh and Bhatta Parsaul.

He said both the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party governments had been failures. “Only the Congress can bring changes in Uttar Pradesh.”