All-India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi reached out to unemployed youths by promising to create conditions that would generate employment opportunities in the State itself.

“The youth of Kerala at present have only three employment avenues. They go to other parts of the country in search of a job, or they go to the Middle-east or they join the CPI (M). We are going to give you a Kerala where youngsters will find jobs in the State itself,” he said with an element of sarcasm while addressing an election meeting in the capital city on Sunday morning.

He said the United Democratic Front, once elected to office, with the partnership of the United Progress Alliance Government at the Centre, will take up short term and long term measures to ensure the State’s development.

Mr. Gandhi side-stepped the contentious issues raised by the LDF in the election campaign and instead sought to focus on the State’s development and the UDF’s plans for this with the assistance of the UPA Government. Highlighting the UPA Government’s achievement in ensuring inclusive growth through a plethora of programmes such as MGNREGA, JNNURM and the farm loan waiver schemes, Mr. Gandhi emphasised on the importance of economic growth, which, he said, was allowing the UPA Government to implement programmes for the poor. He said growth and progress are connected because “without growth progress is not possible, and without progress growth is not possible”.

He said Kerala was not a favourite destination for industrial investments. If one were to go by the record of Congress-ruled states, it can be seen that growth has been very fast and large amounts of money is transferred for the development of education and health sectors.

The LDF Government has failed to create an environment for investments. It has broken all its promises made when it came to power. Liquor, Land and lottery mafia have played havoc min the State. Violence, scams and goodaism have shaken the institutions of the State, he said.

He admitted that corruption was the biggest problem the country faced. The RTI Act was a big step forward. In pursuance of this transparency law, the UPA Government will soon bring in legislation that would provide for accountability. “We have taken action against corruption and will continue to do so. But this cannot be said of the Government of Kerala,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi said that the UDF will tap the depth of experience of its leaders in its attempt to push for development of the State. “We have completed the revamp process in the Kerala Students Union and the Youth Congress and ensured that new and fresh faces are inducted,” he said obliquely stating his preference for young leaders.

Mr. Gandhi also touched upon the development of Thiruvananthapuram city, which had been abandoned by the LDF Government. “Forty years ago, Thiruvananthapuram was an example for the rest of the country. Today, the city is lacking in infrastructure and the roads are full of potholes. The UDF will come out with a comprehensive plan for the next 25 years to develop Thiruvananthapuram and transform it to a city of the 21st century, he added.

The election meeting started more than one hour behind schedule. All the UDF candidates from Thiruvananthapuram constituencies, except G Karthikeyan (who is contesting from Aruvikkara) were introduced to Mr. Gandhi. Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy, who spoke briefly, said the people of Kerala will vote against the CPI (M) led LDF and its impractical slogans. Thalekunnil Basheer, Acting KPCC president, presided over the meeting.

Mr. Gandhi later took the chopper from here to Palakkad to address scheduled election meetings in other parts of the state.

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