Mahoba/Jhansi, UP, Jan 16: AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today alleged that the main reason behind the ''continuous drought'' in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh was the ''neglect'' of the Mayawati government in that part of the state. ''Had the UP government honestly implemented the Centrally-sponsored schemes, the situation would have been different,'' Mr Gandhi told the media at Mahoba.
He said the state government should immediately set its priority for the Bundelkhand region as any further delay could lead to a catastrophe. Claiming that the Centre was closely monitoring the situation and a financial package to the tune of Rs 1500 crores was under consideration, the Congress leader said the study committee of the party had recommended the package but the state government's demand was received very late.
He said the Congress was serious on the Bundelkhand drought issue and would very soon announce a heafty package on the lines of Vidharba distress package. Earlier, Mr Gandhi began his two-day Bundelkhand tour to assess the drought situation by directly interacting with the people.
''Mr Gandhi is likely to give his feedback to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi for the much-hyped special financial package for the region reeling under drought for the last five years,'' said UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi interacting with villagers at Srinagar township of Mahoba district where till date 29 farmers have committed suicide following the prevailing drought.
''The Mayawati government came out of the slumber after Mr Gandhi took up the issue with the Prime Minister,'' she claimed. Mr Gandhi accompanied by AICC General Secretary in-charge of UP Digvijay Singh and Ms Joshi, met the villages and enquired about their problems, particularly about the BPL and job cards, midday meal and drought compensation.
At Srinagar, he spent some time with the 25 family members of the farmers who had committed suicide. The Congress leaders had to console the family members when they broke down and charged the UP government with ''criminal neglect''.
During his 20-minute stay, the farmers complained to Mr Gandhi about the ''ignorance'' of the state government over their problems and urged the Congress to do something for them. They said Mahoba, known for Betal leaves in the country, was reeling under crisis and the entire ''paan'' industry had collapsed.
Congress UP president, Ms Joshi, when sought to know from SDM Ramshanker Gupta as to why the state government was doing nothing for the people, the official said a survey was underway to assess the loss and the people affected.
The people, who had assembled to hear the Congress leaders, gave a loud applause when Ms Joshi said Mr Gandhi had come here to investigate into the works done by the Mayawati government in the area.
Mr Gandhi and his team would pay a visit to Purania in Hamipur district, Madhopura in Banda district and Sikripurvyas in Jalaun district this afternoon. The AICC General Secretary would address a press conference at Jhansi in the evening.
Tomorrow, Mr Gandhi and other leaders would attend the second state coordination committee meeting at Jhansi, which will be followed by a public meeting addressed by them.