Mendipathar (Meghalaya), Feb 20: Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on his second visit to poll-bound Meghalaya, hit out at the BJP-led central government today, alleging that it ''actively" participated in corruption by allowing bank-loan defaulters Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi to escape the country.
Gandhi is on a two-day campaign trail in the north-eastern state till tomorrow with road-shows in Tura and Shillong and a rally in the Jaintia Hills scheduled on the last day of his visit. The Congress chief also criticised the Centre's offer to beautify the churches and religious institutions in the Christian-majority state and claimed that of late, there had been a ''tremendous increase" in the discrimination towards and humiliation of the north-east people.
''With the Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi scandals, we know that the government not only cannot remove corruption, but it is also actively participating in it,'' he said. ''This government has, instead of giving hope, security and economic growth, dealt us only with hopelessness, unemployment, fear, hatred and violence,'' he added.
Taking a jibe at the Centre over diamantaire Nirav Modi fleeing the country, Gandhi said, ''I would like to request (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji, on behalf of all of us, to bring back the other Modiji, when he goes on another of his many foreign trips. ''We will all be very grateful as a nation to get our hard-earned money back.'' Continuing his attack against the BJP, the Congress president said, ''I know they (BJP) have lots of money as some of the richest Indians, including perhaps those who have run away with money stolen from Indian banks, are their supporters,'' and urged the tribals of Meghalaya to teach the saffron party ''a lesson'' in the February 27 state Assembly polls.
He hit out at the Union tourism ministry for its offer last month to beautify the churches and religious institutions in Meghalaya and accused the BJP of buying some Congress members too. Union Tourism Minister K J Alphons had announced a Rs 70-crore project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for beautifying the churches and religious institutions of Meghalaya. It was rejected outright by at least two main churches of the state. ''They (BJP) have even bought some of my party members. Now, in their arrogance, they think that they can buy god,'' Gandhi said, adding that churches, temples, gurdwaras and mosques and spirituality were not for sale.
Recounting attacks on Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and on a priest in Madhya Pradesh, he said, "There is a tremendous increase in the instances of discrimination and humiliation with the people from Meghalaya and other north-eastern states in the country.'' He also mentioned the harassment and threats to three Garo youths from their landlady in Delhi because they did not look "Indian enough".
Lauding the work of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, the Congress president said, ''He (Sangma) ushered in an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity and by being one of the most hardworking chief ministers in the country, one can see tremendous development here.'' Claiming that Meghalaya's growth rate was higher than that of Gujarat, Gandhi said, ''The Congress has overseen the emergence of Meghalaya as the most literate state in India, with the highest ratio of female enrolment in primary schools in the country.
Before saying anything against the Meghalaya government, the BJP leaders should remember that Meghalaya's growth rate is higher than (that of) Gujarat. He added that strikes and violent activities were a thing of the past in Meghalaya and that there was an atmosphere of peace and stability now in the state.
''This atmosphere of peace and stability has brought development and good governance,'' the Congress president said, adding that his party's government in the north-eastern state had created a ''tremendous'' road network and connected itself with the rest of India through the rail network.
''The Tura-Shillong highway is there for everyone to see,'' he said. Meghalaya was one of the few states to have a universal health insurance, Gandhi said and added that single mothers were immensely helped by the state government's scheme of providing economic support and assistance to them.
Referring to the ruling BJP-NPF-NPP alliance in neighbouring Manipur, the Congress president accused it of running the state with ''ill-gotten money and power''. ''I promise you that we will not allow a repetition of Manipur in Meghalaya.
On behalf of the Congress, I assure you of this.... Every voice in Meghalaya is calling for justice and together, we shall once again form the government in Meghalaya,'' he said, adding that his party would ''resist tooth and nail'' any attempt to dilute the traditional system of governance in the north-eastern state.