Press Trust of india

INDIA bloc represents 60% of nation: Rahul

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Aizawl/Lunglei (Mizoram): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday claimed that the opposition INDIA alliance represents 60 per cent of the country, more than the BJP does.

Gandhi alleged that both the major parties of Mizoram – MNF and opposition ZPM – are “instruments for the BJP and the RSS to gain a foothold” in the Christian-majority state.

He promised an old age pension of Rs 2,000 per month, gas cylinders at Rs 750 and support for entrepreneurs if the Congress comes to power in Mizoram, which is going to assembly polls on November 7.

Addressing reporters in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, where he was on a two-day visit from Monday to campaign for party candidates, Gandhi said the opposition INDIA alliance will defend the “idea of India” by protecting its values, constitutional framework and freedom of people irrespective of religion or culture to express themselves and live in harmony.

“It is important to realise we (INDIA bloc) represent 60 per cent of the country, more people than the BJP does,” he said, while referring to non-BJP ruled states.

Lashing out at the BJP and its ideological parent RSS, Gandhi said, “Their vision for our nation is different from ours. We believe in decentralisation whereas the BJP believes that all decisions should be taken in Delhi.”

He asserted that the Congress will win all the upcoming assembly elections in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana.

“We will decimate the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. We had wiped them out in Chhattisgarh and will defeat them again. We had trounced the BJP in Rajasthan in previous polls and will repeat it this time as well. We will do the same in the Northeast. Nobody should underestimate the idea of Congress,” Gandhi added.

Asserting that the Congress helped lay the foundation of the country and that the grand old party has a record of defending that foundation, he accused the BJP of attempting to capture the entire institutional framework of the nation.

“Different states in the Northeast are facing attacks from the BJP and RSS, threatening the foundations of your religious beliefs and languages. The RSS believes that India should be governed by a single ideology and organisation, which is what we are precisely opposing.

“We want the people of Mizoram to take decisions for their future. We want them to be comfortable in expressing themselves, their religious and social practices. We do not believe Mizoram should be ruled directly from Delhi. We believe in devolving power to the people of the state,” he said.

Alleging that the BJP was using MNF and ZPM as a platform to gain a foothold in Mizoram, he said that the upcoming assembly polls is a fight to defend the idea of Mizoram and protecting its residents’ freedom, tradition and religion.

“While the Mizo National Front (MNF) is directly allied with the BJP, it is very clear that the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) is not fighting the saffron party either,” he said.

“The Congress will form the next government in Mizoram. People of the state understand what is happening… The real question of the election is whether the RSS is going to control Mizoram or not. It can do so through the MNF or ZPM,” he added.

Gandhi said unemployment is among the major reasons behind the drug problem in Mizoram and the Congress will focus on providing jobs to the youths if it comes to power in the state.

He said if the Congress comes to power at the Centre after the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, it would implement across the nation schemes that are running successfully in states ruled by the party.

“The Congress believes in testing an idea and if it works, we will scale it up and take it to the rest of the country. When we come to power at Delhi, we will take ideas from healthcare policies of Rajasthan, social security programme of Karnataka and entrepreneurship support scheme of Chhattisgarh and implement countrywide policies,” he said.

Gandhi said more focus will be laid on the MSME sector as it generates the maximum number of jobs.

On the Manipur ethnic violence, he said the “hatred spread by the BJP” has to be removed and bridges have to be built between the two communities.

Later, speaking at a rally in Lunglei, he took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme and said, “I am less interested in telling you my ‘mann ki baat’ and more interested in listening to your ‘mann ki baat’. So anytime you need my help with anything, I am available for you. Consider me your partner and your soldier in Delhi.”

Hitting out at the ruling MNF government in the state, he said it has failed to crack down on drugs, provide jobs or build or maintain infrastructure.

Recalling works done by previous Congress governments in Mizoram, he said, “We had built Lengpui airport, Rajiv Gandhi stadium, Mizoram State Cancer Institute, Zoram Medical College, and implemented new land use policy. We have a vision for Mizoram.”

Elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly are scheduled to be held on November 7.

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