Atiq Khan

“Dalits look upon Mr. Gandhi as their true leader”

“He has given a new direction to the Congress”

JAGDISHPUR (AMETHI): Union Steel and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday said that the UPA Government at the Centre had taken up cudgels for the poor and was committed to their welfare. In the past five years of UPA rule the country had progressed on all fronts, he said, making a special reference to the steel sector.

Speaking at a function to mark the takeover of Malvika Steel Plant by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) here in the presence of the Amethi MP, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Paswan lavished praise on UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son for rendering yeoman service for the cause of the poor. He said Ms. Gandhi had given a new direction to the Congress in the past five years.

Without naming Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, the Lok Janshakti Party president said Mr. Gandhi’s intermingling with the Dalits had become a cause of concern for some. He assailed attempts to deride the Amethi MP for staying in Dalit households. The Dalits, he said, looked upon Mr. Gandhi as their “true” leader.

Stating that the Muslims belonged to the Indian family, Mr. Paswan accused the BJP of trying to divide the people along religious lines. The Union Minister announced that the closed fertilisers units in Gorakhpur and Kanpur would be revived.

The Minister said around Rs.450 crore would be invested by SAIL in Malvika Steel Plant and added that the rehabilitated unit would be inaugurated on January 26, 2011. Mr. Gandhi described his stint as MP from Amethi as a learning experience and said in the past five years many development schemes had been launched in the constituency with about 800 km of road being re-laid. He said around 25,000 cataract operations were performed and the women’s self-help group programme is the biggest of its kind in UP.

Recalling the days of his father Rajiv Gandhi’s term as MP from Amethi and later as Prime Minister, Mr. Gandhi said after his death development of the constituency came to a standstill.

He said the decision to revive the closed steel plant was taken in 2005.

The Union Minister of State for Steel, Jitin Prasada, urged the UP Government to improve infrastructure facilities in Amethi for the sake of its industrial development. Deriding attempts to politicise development initiatives, he said if the State Government extended cooperation many industries could be set up in UP. He said the rehabilitation of Malvika Steel Plant would act as a catalyst for industrial revival of Jagdishpur. The unit would be run by Bokaro Steel Plant of SAIL.

Malvika Steel is the first private sector plant to be taken over by SAIL under the steel utilities rehabilitation programme.