Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday stating that the party would lose the coming Lok Sabha elections as it did in 2004 and 2009 after mounting the ‘India Shining’ campaign when it was in power. Mr. Gandhi was addressing the Valmiki Mahasammelan here. The programme was organised by the All India Valmiki Federation which felicitated Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit with ‘Valmiki Rashtriya Gaurav Samman’ for her contribution to the community’s progress.

Mr. Gandhi said that for years many people were forced to sleep on empty stomach but now the time has changed. “There is no need for the slogan which was common during the days of Indira Gandhi ‘Aadhi roti khaayenge, Congress ko laayenge’. Now the slogan is ‘Bhar pet khana khaayenge, Congress ko laayenge’,” he said.

He termed the Valmiki community as the backbone of the Congress. “There is a need to bring the community forward especially the youth in the party and they should also be given more representation in the State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha,” he added.

Mr. Gandhi said that he was sorry that the community was involved in manual scavenging.

“We have brought the Manual Scavenging Bill but the name is wrong. The Bill is about right to self respect.”

Further, the Congress vice-president said he wants to take the Congress to a level at which it was during the days of Mahatma Gandhi when there were around 40-50 prime ministerial candidates. “We need such a leadership in the Congress. For this we will have to give a helping hand to the Valmiki community and other backward communities,” he said.