PM targets MNF, picks up corruption issue

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Aizawl, Nov 25 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at his fiery best as he lambasted the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) for ''largescale corruption'' and asked the people of the state to remove them from the saddle in the December two Assembly elections.

Addressing separate election rallies at Lunglei and then at the capital town, he repeatedly harped on the failures of the MNF government and said funds provided by the Centre had been misused.

''In fact Rs 125 crore sent from the Centre to fight the bamboo flowering has been swindled,'' he said while addressing a Congress rally at the Assam Rifles Ground.

''Corruption has reached an endemic proportion in Mizoram. Your state needs a government that will fulfil its enormous potential in agriculture, create new industry and thousands of jobs ... A government that will not be an inward-looking and that will be interested in building stronger bridges with mainstream Indian economy,'' he averred.

In fact, in the first ever departure from the usual convention of Mizoram, the Prime Minister was allowed to address public rallies by the Mizoram Peoples Forum (MPF), the Church-controlled organisation overseeing the electioneering and ensuring the model code of conduct in the state.

''We have allowed him because he is the Prime Minister. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is coming three days later. She will be using a public hall, no rallies for her,'' said an MPF spokesman.

In Mizoram, election rallies are banned by the MPF and all electioneering was done through, either Church masses or closed forum of public halls, where rival contestants come and speak to the voters, making it extremely unusual by all India standard.

The Prime Minister, picking up the minority violence in Orissa- issue, said ''perpetrators of Orissa violence would be brought to justice. ''Ninety per cent of Mizoram is Christian and Church has profound control over the electorate,'' the spokesperson added.

Making the non-performance of the two-time Chief Minister Zoramthanga as the main issue, he said only a Congress government could do justice to the hilly state. The Congress had been out of power since 2000, when they lost to the MNF.

Former Chief Minister Lalthanhawala is the Congress candidate for the chief ministership. Dr Singh also said he had come as a representative of Ms Gandhi and it reminded the Gandhi family's close relationship with the hilly state. The entire Gandhi clan has been a craze in whole of Mizoram for the past three decades and cutting across the party lines the Gandhis have a great fan following in the state. This was very much evident when Rahul Gandhi was here in Mizoram last week.

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