Lauds infrastructure, health, and employment initiatives

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had changed the face of the capital in the last 15 years by ensuring all-round infrastructural and social development. Mr. Gandhi also claimed that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had constructed thrice as many roads as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government did during its rule.

“Delhi has a swanky new Metro; it now has 130 flyovers, bridges and subways; the number of buses in the public transport fleet has gone up; education and power supply have improved by leaps and bounds, and five new universities have come up and 50,000 seats have been added,” the Congress leader said, while hailing Ms. Dikshit’s performance at a rally in North West Delhi.

Migrant-friendly

The youth leader said Delhi had always attracted and welcomed migrants from across the country. “People come here because development and employment opportunities exist,” he said.

Addressing a rally at Ramlila Maidan in the resettlement colony area of Mangolpuri – a Congress bastion, Mr. Gandhi said the government had regularised unauthorised colonies for the welfare of people, and ownership rights had been bestowed on the residents of 45 resettlement colonies.

Responding to allegations about his show of anger on various occasions, Mr. Gandhi said, “Congress leaders always fight with their heart. It is others who fight with anger. I once asked my mother who is a real Congressman and she said any person who supports the weak and the downtrodden and come to their help is one.”

Mr. Gandhi also said the UPA government, through the Right to Food Act, Right to Information Act and Right to Employment Act, had empowered citizens.

He said: “We want to open the political system to the ordinary man and want their voice to be heard in Parliament and Assemblies.”

During his 15-minute address, he said youth and women remained the focal points of the Congress whereas the Opposition said that their voices should not come out, and it was the bureaucracy which should have the final word.

On the elections in Rajasthan, he lauded the programme for the free distribution of medicines, saying, “A major cause of poverty is also outgo on health because people, especially the labour class which works hard to eke out a living, ends up spending a major part of its earnings on health.”

“Whatever laws we make are in keeping with the feedback we get from such poor and needy people,” Mr. Gandhi said.

‘Model of balanced development’

Ms. Dikshit said Delhi was a model of balanced development; a prosperous city. It is one comprising the Metro and modern buses, a city of the empowered girl child, and where people have a say in governance through Bhagidari (an initiative of the Delhi government to promote civic participation in local governance).

The Chief Minister said flats had been given to the poor and more were needed to meet the demand. For ensuring food security, 73 lakh people had been covered through the food security programme and the Annashree Yojana. “We are soon going to launch a Kabil Laadli scheme for the girl child which will cater to their higher education needs,” she said.

‘BJP ally of Shiv Sena’

All India Congress Committee general secretary and Delhi in-charge Shakeel Ahmed ridiculed the BJP for being an ally of the Shiv Sena. He said the party was forcing people from Poorvanchal out of Maharashtra – just the way it used to target people from Gujarat and South India earlier.

He also charged BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi with maintaining close ties with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who, he said, had also been targeting ‘outsiders’ in Maharashtra. Mr. Thackeray had accorded Mr. Modi the honour of a “State guest” recently.

A number of senior Delhi Congress leaders such as Union Minister and North West Delhi MP Krishna Tirath, area MLA and Delhi PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, and Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president J.P. Agarwal shared the dais with the Congress vice-president.

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