Days after he attacked Bharatiya Janata Party's PM candidate Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots issue, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday alleged that BJP's “divisive” policy was responsible for spoiling the country's secular fabric and incidents of hate crime.
He stressed that unlike BJP, Congress' ideology was to unite the people and work for their progress irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
“The opposition wants to divide the people on political and religious lines, but we want to surge ahead for peace, progress and prosperity of people irrespective of their religion," he said starting his party's poll campaign for the April 9 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.
Gandhi said that the religion-based ideology of the saffron party "has spoilt the secular nature of the country resulting in racial discrimination against the people from the Northeast" and referred to the January 29 murder of Arunachal student Nido Taniya in New Delhi.
Rahul said that Taniya had been killed because of ill feelings nursed against people of the Northeast by the people of mainland India.
"Arunachal Pradesh being a part of India, its people should enjoy equal privileges in every state of the country. Racial discrimination should be rooted out completely and Congress is committed to this," he said.
Rahul said that people of Arunachal and other Northeastern states should not feel neglected in other states of the country.
"India is for everybody and we get strength from each state of the country. Every state is like a flower which together make up a bouquet," he said.
He said to the thundering applause of about 5,000 people gathered at the Subansiti Stadium that the Congress was committed to development of Arunachal Pradesh and wanted to preserve the rich social, traditional and cultural heritage of the peace-loving tribal people in its unique form.
Stressing the age-old relationship between Arunachal Pradesh and the Gandhi-Nehru family, Gandhi said that in 1972 Indira Gandhi had ensured the Union territory status to the state and in 1987 Rajiv Gandhi gave statehood to Arunachal.
“The Rs 10,000-crore road package provided by the UPA government to Arunachal during 2008 has immensely benefited the state as in the past few years the state witnessed vast development in infrastructure and road development," he said.
He hoped that the upcoming airport project and setting up of railway lines in the state would improve connectivity of the land-locked state with other parts of the country.
In his sharpest attack on Modi over the post-Godhra riots, Gandhi had on Sunday dismissed talk of a clean chit to the Gujarat chief minister as "politically expedient" but "far too premature" and had demanded "legal accountability" for the "clear and inexcusable failure" of governance during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Enchanted by natural beauty of Arunachal Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi said he would like to settle there after "retirement".
“I have never seen such a beautiful place anywhere in the country and am also willing to spend a few days here to enjoy the natural beauty," he said.
Gandhi also said that real development was possible only after devolution of power to panchayats and party-ruled Arunachal Pradesh had set an example in this regard.
"The literacy rate of the state has significantly improved in the past decade and the state government has launched several schemes for empowering youth and women," he said.
"The women of the Northeast are very strong as society empowers them. The people of the country should learn from the Northeast," he said at the rally ahead of the April 9 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
Referring to the immense potential in tourism, horticulture and hydro-power sectors in the state, Gandhi said that more focus should be given on these sectors for overall development of the state as well as the entire country.
Image: Posters of Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi at an election rally