Employment migration from Uttar Pradesh will persist so long as development languishes, he maintains

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday reiterated that the “harsh truth” was that the people of Uttar Pradesh were migrating to other States in search of livelihood. As long as the State lagged in development, Mr. Gandhi said, the people would continue to seek employment opportunities in more developed places. He blamed the non-Congress governments for the State's lack of development in the last 20 years.

Mr. Gandhi said he promised to change the face of the State in five years if the Congress was voted to power in the 2012 Assembly elections.

The Amethi MP embarked on a five-day ‘Jan Sampark Abhiyan' programme from Barabanki on Tuesday.

Mr. Gandhi recently created a controversy when at the November 14 Congress rally in Jhunsi in Phulpur, Allahabad, he asked how long the people from Uttar Pradesh would continue “to beg in Maharashtra and Delhi.”

Unfazed by the criticism, however, the Congress general secretary told the public meeting in the Ramnagar Assembly segment of Barabanki that persons begging in the streets of Delhi had, when asked, told him that they were from Uttar Pradesh. He lamented that while the rest of the country had progressed, U.P. lagged on the path to development. “You will keep going to Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana looking for livelihood,” the Congress general secretary said.

Claiming that the State had lost out on development opportunities, Mr. Gandhi referred to the information technology and the automobile sector, which had established bases in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

He said that if the Congress came to power in the State, the situation would be changed in five years. “And in the next 10 years it would be among the top States in the country.”

Upon his arrival at Lucknow's Amausi airport in the morning, some Congress workers registered their protests over the distribution of ticket for the Assembly polls. Rival party workers loyal to Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma and National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairman P.L. Punia clashed over ticket distribution before Mr. Gandhi addressed the district-level Congress workers in Barabanki.