BSP govt promoting politics of caste, religion: Rahul

Ballia: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday charged the Mayawati government with promoting the politics of caste and religion in Uttar Pradesh and said there had been no development in the state in the last 20-25 years.

"Here (in UP), people do not talk about the state. They talk about their caste and religion… 15 years ago, Andhra Pradesh was behind us. Look where it is today. But UP is continuously lagging behind in development," he said.

Gandhi was addressing an interactive session with youths here on the second day of his visit to eastern Uttar Pradesh to broaden his party`s support base ahead of the Assembly elections early next year.

"There has been no development in the state during the past 20-25 years," Gandhi rued, and blamed the BSP government for rampant unemployment in the state. "Go to Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh or Punjab, the scene there is not like this," he said.

Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are ruled by Congress while SAD is in power in Punjab.

Gandhi also addressed a meeting of potential Congress candidates for the 2012 Assembly polls here.

Blaming the state government for lack of development in the state, Gandhi said, "The Centre can only help by providing funds. It is the duty of the state to make best use of the money."

Gandhi, however, regretted that the Central allocations were not being properly utilised in the state.

"The Centre provided funds for National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in Bundelkhand area but the money has not been utilised. Now, Rs 3,000 crores are being provided for weavers but we are not sure whether it would be used properly," he said.

Amid raging controversy over reports of misuse of crores of rupees meant for the NRHM in the state, Gandhi had lashed out at the Mayawati regime yesterday saying had it been any other government, it would have quit in such a situation.

Asking the youth to change their mindset vis-a-vis caste and religion, he said once they come forward they can change the scenario in the state.

"See the unity displayed by 500 farmers in Bhatta-Parsaul which forced the government to change the land acquisition law. If five youths come forward from every area, they can change the entire scenario in the state," he said.

At the same time, he cautioned, if the youths do not rise to the occasion, even God would not be able to come to the rescue of the state.

Bhatta-Parsaul village in Gautam Buddha Nagar on Delhi`s outskirts was the epicentre of the recent farmers` agitation against acquisition of their land by the Mayawati government.

Earlier, during his interaction with weavers in Niwada village in neighbouring Azamgarh district, Gandhi asked if they were getting benefits of the Central schemes or the smart card yojna for them.

But, he was told that they were being deprived of their rights because of "middlemen and brokers".

On his way here from Mau, Gandhi made an unscheduled halt at Niwada village in Mubarakpur area and met the weavers` community representatives beside participating in a `chaupal` (villagers` meeting).

He also visited a few houses and talked to women in the area, famous for its `Banarasi` sarees, and home to weavers who have been involved in the occupation for generations.