Referring to the Bastar ambush, the Congress vice president says the attack "not an attack on Congress party but on the people."

Making a strong emotional pitch over the Maoist ambush on Congress leaders in May, Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that former PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel was killed to stop him from becoming the Chief Minister and to silence the voice of the poor and the tribals here.

Slamming the Raman Singh government over the May 25 dastardly Maoist attack in Bastar which had wiped out the entire senior Congress leadership of the state, Mr. Gandhi said this was “not an attack on Congress party but on the people” and asked voters not to forget the event and bring Congress to power in the state.

Hitting out at BJP, Mr. Gandhi said that they are a “world champion of corruption” and believe in the empowerment of only a few individuals and not the people, unlike the Congress.

Addressing an election gathering in Chief Minister Raman Singh’s constituency, the Congress vice president said that it was not Patel but the people of the region who were silenced to death on that fateful day.

“The violence, the attack that happened then was not targeted at Congress party alone. This was an assault on the voice of these people, the women here,” he told the gathering comprising a large number of tribals.

Frequently referring to the slain former Congress state chief Patel, he said, “Nand Kumar Patel was going to become the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. Nobody could have stopped him. There was no way to stop him. There was only one way and that he was eliminated.

“The voice of the poor and the tribal echoed in his heart and he was killed. It was not he, but you who were killed that day. Don’t forget this..They belong to you and they were snatched from you,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Attacking the state government, the Congress leader rued, “Our entire leadership was liquidated, but they (state government) say they have no fault. Our entire leadership was finished but they say it was not their fault...”

On May 25, Naxals attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in Jagdalpur, killing the party’s senior leader Mahendra Karma and injuring former union minister V.C. Shukla, who later died in a hospital.

The bodies of PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son were later found in the forests. A former Congress MLA Udya Mudaliyar was also shot dead by the Maoists who attacked the convoy when they were returning from a “Parivartan” rally.