Foundation of Gujarat's growth laid by Congress, not Modi: Sonia

     Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday launched a frontal attack on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying the ruling party at the Centre is responsible for all development that Gujaratis are now enjoying. Gandhi, who kicked off the Congress Party's campaign in poll-bound Gujarat, said that the opposition was responsible for raking up baseless allegations while larger issues were going unnoticed.

"The Congress has laid down the foundation for growth in Gujarat. The Congress has tried to live up to its ideals, we have come a long way and still have miles to go. It is unfortunate that our opponents only see darkness and cannot see the development. The work the Congress has done for the development of Gujarat , no one else has done," she added. "The opposition always misleads people about our development-oriented policies. It is the habit of some people to take credit for the work done by other people, let them do it," she added. Gandhi said it is deplorable that the Narmada waters have not reached the farmers. "In the past 10 years, Saurashtra was denied Narmada waters. It is unfortunate that the waters of the Narmada from the Sardar Sarovar dam have not reached Saurashtra," she added.

Gandhi asked the Gujarat Government to look into the farmers' problems, especially cases of suicide, and send a report to the Centre so that they can be compensated. "Farmers are not getting aid on time. Farmers are committing suicides in Gujarat . We have taken up projects for benefit of farmers. The state government must send its demand to fight drought to Centre. We can't term India as advanced if farmers don't prosper. Farmers must get the right price for their produce," said Gandhi. "UPA Government has given debt relief to farmers, helped in prosperity. We are also aware of the problems of the fishermen in this region and the Centre will work on them too," she added.

Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the ruling UPA Government at the Centre, further emphasized that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail would not affect the members of the farming community. "FDI in retail will benefit the farmers of Gujarat . The opposition is misguiding the people on FDI in multi-brand retail. States are free to implement FDI move or sidestep it," said Gandhi. "FDI means that the farmers will be able to get their produce to consumers, sellers without middlemen. If one Chief Minister doesn't want to implement FDI in his state, it is his choice. Why mislead the people and create such a big fuss over FDI?" she added.

Taking a jibe at the main opposition on the issue of corruption, Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not ready for dialogue in Parliament to counter graft. "The whole country is concerned about corruption today. We are too. The UPA brought in the Right to Information Act. People against whom there were corruption charges; the law has taken its course. I want to know what the BJP is doing about corruption? Why is there such a difference between their walk and talk?" asked Gandhi. "The BJP did not let the Lokpal Bill be passed in the Rajya Sabha; Gujarat doesn't have a Lokpal for eight years now. The BJP is not against corruption, it is just against the Congress," she added. Gandhi pointed out that people belonging to the economically weaker sections get three extra LPG cylinders in Congress-ruled states. "Only Congress Governments have offered three extra LPG cylinders. Why doesn't Gujarat follow that model?" she asked.

The Congress president also remembered Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion. "I salute this land that is associated with the memories of Mahatma Gandhi," she said, adding that Gujarat was a symbol of unity, integrity, compassion and honesty.

Modi had earlier upped the ante on the allegation that the Central Government has spent a sum of Rs1880 crore on Sonia Gandhi's foreign trips. "For Sonia Gandhi, 1880 crore rupees that belong to the poor of the country; has been spent. I have this newspaper dated 12 July 2012. Here, it is written that a resident of Hisar in Haryana had filed an RTI. The Indian Government itself gave this information to him," Modi told a rally in Gujarat's Junagadh District. However, the RTI applicant, Ramesh Verma, denied Modi's claims, saying the figures being linked to his petition were incorrect.

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