Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday recalled history and asked the people in Meerut to oust the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh the way they had once freed the country from the yoke of the British rule.
"It is time for you to break free. Untie your hands which have been tied by successive governments in Uttar Pradesh. Vote for us for the sake of your own development. With your power, you ousted the British, throw them out also," Gandhi said while addressing a big public rally at Ramlila Ground in Meerut.
The time has come to show the same courage and put their weight behind Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal-combine in UP, Rahul said.
Selling the plank of change, the Nehru-Gandhi family scion said he did not believe in making a slew of promises.
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'You alone have the power to change your destiny'
"I will make only one promise. We will change the face of this state. We will bring development to the farm sector the way we did in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, etc," he said.
Addressing the rally a day after Congress had flaunted the Rajiv Gandhi find, technocrat Sam Pitroda, as the new OBC face in election-bound UP, Rahul on Thursday refrained from raising the caste issue.
Accompanied by RLD leader Ajit Singh and Congress leader Digvijay Singh and MPs Jayant Chaudhary and Deepinder Hooda, Rahul stressed people's power to usher change in his 15 minute speech.
"You alone have the power to change your destiny. You threw out the British. Now is the time to oust the current government in UP and elect the Congress-RLD combine. We promise we will change the face of this state," Rahul said, playing the development card at the well attended rally.
Four to five activists of UP Navnirman Sena, who were waving black flags as Rahul stood up to speak, were whisked away by police.
Gandhi said it was not political parties that change governments in a state but people who do it.
'When the magic elephant eats money, is it not naatak?'
"It is you who have the power and strength to change. The time has come for you to show UP as well as the nation, the path to development... The whole nation will turn around and look at you (if you change the government)," he said.
"You gave them 22 years, give me five years and nothing else... The Congress-RLD government will be the common man's government, that of the poor, the backwards, farmers and the labourers. Whatever we do, we will do for farmers, the poor and labourers," Rahul said.
Reminding people of the development ushered in Congress-ruled states of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Kerala and Assam, Gandhi said "now we are going to change UP."
Attacking Bahuajn Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party, Gandhi said that "in the last 22 years they took away your time, they took away your money, and no development took place in the state."
Hitting back at Mayawati for making fun of his visits to villages in UP and rake up issues of farmers and the poor, Gandhi said, "If meeting farmers, eating food with them and drinking water in their homes, if holding the hands of the labourers and the poor is drama, then what is eating away funds for MNREGA... When the magic elephant eats money, is it not naatak (drama)"?
'Mulayam promising anything to become CM'
Gandhi also lashed out at SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav for promising anything in return for making him the chief minister.
"He promises to bring electricity but where will the power come from? There are no generating units... If you ask him to make the sky green, he will now promise doing so in return for making him the CM," he said.
Gandhi also attacked NDA for its 'India Shining' campaign ahead of 2004 Lok Sabha elections, saying it was evolved sitting in the drawing-room by its leaders.
"They never came to your homes, never talked to farmers and never visited the villages but merely evolved the India Shinning slogan. The people gave them the reply in 2004 elections by ousting them," he said.
Taking a dig at his opponents, Gandhi questioned where were they when Bundelkhand region of the state suffered a drought and said "they were making elephants."
He claimed Congress had brought development and prosperity in whichever state it ruled and will do so in UP also, if voted to power.
He said Congress had already brought in the right to education and the right to employment and was in the process of brining the right to food which ensures 35 kilos of foodgrains to every family.
Ajit Singh said it had never played the politics of religion and caste and promised to bring in development if Congress-RLD combine is voted to power.
"This coalition is fighting the battle of social empowerment," Singh said hoping Jats will be included as OBCs by the central government also.
He said Congress has not given any new reservation to Muslims, it is only ensuring that this reservation reaches them.
Earlier, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said there should be no problem in including Jats in the central list of OBCs.