Narayanpur (Malda), March 16: Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Nayaranpur in Malda district of West Bengal, where she had gone along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday to inaugurate a college in the name of the late ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, said the country needed to fight the communal forces effectively os that the pace of social and economic development was not disrupted.
Sonia stresses secularism, development in a minority-dominated district
Sonia Gandhi's thrust on communal threat and development is significant for through this, she not only reasserted her core beliefs with which she had started her journey as the party president 15 years ago, but also tried to score a political brownie point in an area which has a large Muslim population (Malda is one of the most Muslim-dominated districts in the state) ahead of the panchayat elections due in a month or so.
The Congress has recently lost in a by-poll in the district, which is otherwise known to be its stronghold. On Saturday, the top leadership stressed development and the legacy of Chowdhury, the party's biggest face from this part of the country, to counter the allegations raised by the state government that the Centre has done little for Bengal.
Gandhi said that the Congress was committed to protect the secular fabric of the nation and showered praise on the UPA government for its programmes for the betterment of the minorities, backward sections and improving women's safety conditions in general. She emphasised on the Rs 1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund for the women.
The Congress president also said that the UPA government was aiming to make the backward classes and the minorities self-reliant and would implement the Sachar Committee reports. She said the Prime Minister's 15-point programme would be upgraded under his direct supervision.
She spoke on food security bill and also the government's special focus on technical eduction.
Cong trying to cash in on Mamata's failure?
The Congress leadership is clearly trying to project itself as a better servant of the people in areas where the Mamata Banerjee government have mostly failed. The state government has been accused of failing to ensure women's security, playing politics of polarisation for selfish gains, overlooking the backward sections and turning the education sector into a hub of party politics and criminal activities.
Rahul Gandhi eyeing Congress's revival in Bengal
The Congress has been eyeing to fill up the vacuum after witnessing that its vote share has improved in the recent by-polls (although it lost two out of three seats) and sources said party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has asked the state leadership of the party to work at the grassroots for a better result in the panchayat polls.
According to Gandhi, the Left Front is yet to regain its lost ground and given the steady decline in Banerjee's popularity, the Congress has the best chance to strengthen its grip in the state before the rivals BJP make any inroads.
Sonia Gandhi hence applied balm to the ears of the minorities by speaking on a secular India and development. Can her party back her words and effect a change on the ground? The record of the past nine years says another story.