Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot launched fifth phase of the Sandesh Yatra of the ruling Congress from the home turf of BJP State president Vasundhara Raje in Jhalawar district on Tuesday. He challenged Ms. Raje to prove her allegations against the State Government and slammed her for making “false and misleading” claims.

Mr. Gehlot was accompanied by AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, Pradesh Congress Committee president Chandrabhan, State Ministers Shanti Dhariwal and Jitendra Singh, Kota MP Ijeyraj Singh and PCC minorities’ department president Khanu Khan Budhwali at the yatra’s inauguration in Khanpur.

Mr. Gehlot ridiculed Ms. Raje’s criticism of the State Government’s welfare schemes and in particular scoffed at her recent statement about construction of houses for the poor: “Ms. Raje says that a house cannot be constructed in Rs.50,000. A bungalow is built in Rs.10 crore, but a poor man has the feeling of a bungalow when he gets his modest brick house with the Government’s help.”

The Chief Minister said as many as 16 lakh pregnant women across the State had benefited from the Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana. Similarly, 40 lakh below poverty line family were getting wheat at Re.1 per kg, hundreds of talented students had received free laptop computers and the assistance for construction of houses had been increased to Rs.70,000 each along with Rs.5,000 for toilets.

“When I ask the people at public meetings during the yatra to clap in support of the drive to eliminate female foeticide, Ms. Raje takes exception to it. Isn’t it strange?” asked Mr. Gehlot.

Mr. Wasnik said Ms. Raje had herself reduced her Suraaj Sankalp Yatra started with an eye on the coming State Assembly elections to a “criticism yatra”. “

Ms. Raje has no right to move around with her yatra because she treats Rajasthan as a geographical entity to rule. She has no respect for people’s sentiments, culture, heritage and civilisation.”

Mr. Chandrabhan said a record of deaths due to the State Government’s indifference had been made during Ms. Raje’s tenure as Chief Minister. One hundred poor farmers, majority of them Gujjars, were killed in police firing, while hundreds of others were killed in road accidents and stampede in a temple in Jodhpur.

Forgetting her own track record, Ms. Raje was raising the bogey of deaths due to hunger during the Congress rule, said Mr. Chandrabhan. He said Ms. Raje, who stayed for four years in London, had only recently returned to Rajasthan and was making “bogus claims”.

Challenges Raje to prove her allegations against the State Government