Lucknow, Oct 15: Accusing the Congress of playing dirty politics in the name of land in Rae Bareli meant for the Rail Coach Factory, Chief Minister Mayawati, in an acerbic rejoinder, said had her government not followed the democratic norms, the Congress president would have been sent to jail.
Reacting strongly to Ms Gandhi's statement in Rae Bareli yesterday that she was willing to go to jail, if prevented to visit her parliamentary constituency, the UP Chief Minister said ''If my government was out to misuse its powers, the desire of Ms Gandhi (to go to jail) would have been fulfilled.'' She said her party and government would not allow the Congress to malign their image on the land issue and would soon hold a 'maharally' in Rae Bareli to clear the confusion in the minds of people there.
Launching a scathing attack on the conduct of the Congress over the issue of land in Rae Bareli, Ms Mayawati said it was a blatant example of dirty politics and the issue was raked up with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha polls. ''Why did the Congress wake up so late in laying the foundation stone of the Rail Coach Factory while it had been announced many years ago,'' she asked.
The BSP supremo made it clear that the land allotment for the factory was cancelled due to the resentment of the farmers but still, she had authorised her Principal Secretary Net Ram to speak to the farmers to settle the issue. ''He has been asked to submit his report in three days time,'' she said while stating that this gesture was to prove her government had never given preference to politics over development.
''The problem with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is that they both never looked beyond Rae Bareli and Amethi and the development in other parts of the state has always been irrelevent for them,'' Ms Mayawati alleged while charting out the various developmental projects of the state government scuttled by the Centre on one pretext or another.
Dubbing the statements of Ms Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli yesterday as a 'political drama', Ms Mayawati, addressing a press conference here said Ms Gandhi was not prevented from addressing rally other than Lalganj and the Congress president unnecessarily tried to politicise the entire issue. Ms Gandhi was to lay the foundation stone of Rs 2200-crore Rail Coach Factory, followed by a public rally on October 14. The state government, on October 11, cancelled the land and imposed ban orders under Section 144 which prevented the Congress chief to address the rally.
The UP Chief Minister was furious on the timing of the foundation laying of Rail Coach Factory in Rae Bareli alleging it was scheduled, keeping in mind the beleaguered position of the Congress ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
The project was announced along with similar projects by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's Chapra project long back. ''The coach factory project in Chapra is in porgress but Sonia and the Congress did not bother to start it here,'' she pointed out.
Ms Mayawati said that the Congress had no moral rights to allege that the BSP government was against the development, as it was the UPA at the Centre which was opposed to the UP government's mega projects like Ganga Expressway, Yamuna Expressway and Hindon Expressway. ''Not only these, the Centre also never sanctioned the Rs 80,000-crore development package to UP and slept over the demand of drought relief package for Bundelkhand region,'' she said.
She also rebuffed the Congress president for charging the UP government with closing the employment avenues by cancelling the allotment of land in Rae Bareli saying this factory could have hardly generated 6,000 employment opportunities, but what about the lakhs of jobs from state government's proposed projects which the Congress was opposed to.
Ms Mayawati even went to the extent of saying she would help in setting up 50-60 development projects in Bundelkhand and the eastern parts, of the state, but sadly, Ms Gandhi had always ''mistaken'' to consider Rae Bareli and Amethi as the whole the Uttar Pradesh. ''I have no hesitation to claim that unlike the Congress, the BSP never discriminated on regional, caste or religion basis,'' she said.