Launches ‘Sandesh Yatra’ which will cover all 200 State Assembly constituencies
The ruling Congress in Rajasthan sounded the bugle for the upcoming State Assembly elections here on Saturday by launching a “Sandesh Yatra” and challenged the Opposition BJP to prove its allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. The yatra will cover all the 200 Assembly constituencies before its conclusion on June 30.
Bodu Ram, an elderly Pradesh Congress Committee worker, flagged off the yatra at the PCC headquarters here in the presence of Mr. Gehlot, PCC president Chandrabhan and AICC secretary Arun Yadav. A message from Congress president Sonia Gandhi calling upon the party workers to publicise the policies, values, traditions and programmes of the party was read out on the occasion.
During the next three months, the yatra will draw people’s attention to the State Government’s achievements as well as benefits extended by a series of flagship schemes introduced during the Congress regime. Top party leaders are likely to address public meetings to be held in various districts during the yatra.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Gehlot lashed out at the BJP and accused it of pursuing a communal agenda to create divisions in the society. He challenged the BJP to prove its “baseless allegations” of corruption levelled against him. “I faced similar allegations 32 years ago as an MP, but they turned out to be false,” he said.
Mr. Gehlot said the Congress had taken a number of pro-people decisions during its rule and given a new direction to the State’s development. “Our financial management has drawn all-round applause in the country. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has praised our surplus budget presented this year,” he pointed out.
BJP State president and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is also set to start a “Suraaj Sankalp Yatra” from Udaipur district on April 4 to cover important regions in the State before the Assembly elections scheduled later this year.
On its first day, the yatra covered Jaipur, Dausa and Karauli districts and the participants stayed at the temple town of Sri Mahaveerji during the night. The first public meeting was held at Bassi, 20 km from Jaipur, where Mr. Gehlot sought people’s support for the party’s efforts for development and modernisation of Rajasthan.
He said the gas, oil and lignite reserves discovered recently had offered a vast potential for development of the desert State. After taking a number of steps for ensuring social security of the downtrodden, the Congress would shortly provide the statutory right to shelter to the people, he added.
Mr. Chandrabhan said the yatra coinciding with the Rajasthan Day would give a new meaning to the Congerss’ vision for inclusive development. Mr. Yadav and Union Minister of State Lal Chand Kataria, who is also Jaipur Rural District Congress president, were among those who addressed the gathering.
Several Government programmes, such as dedication of a railway over-bridge in Dausa, cheque distribution under the BPL Housing Scheme at Danalpur and inauguration of a Grid sub-station at Kaila Devi, have been scheduled during the yatra’s first two days. Mr. Gehlot will be present at all the events during the two days.
The BJP, on the other hand, has accused the Congress of taking out the yatra without any preparations just to counter its Suraaj Sankalp Yatra. BJP MLA Rajendra Rathore said the Congress yatra was like a “marriage procession without [a] bridegroom”, as the party does not know under whose leadership it would fight the polls.
The BJP also charged that the ruling Congress was misusing the Government resources for making the yatra successful and had instructed the district officers to bring crowds to the public meetings.
It claimed that most of the people coming to the gatherings during the yatra would be the Government employees, Anganwadi workers, panchayat members and MGNREGS labourers.