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Tuesday 22 November 2011

Rahul repeats beggar remark in UP
22 NOV, 2011, 04.13PM IST, MANMOHAN RAI,TNN 

Rahul repeats beggar remark in UP

Rahul Gandhi
India's ruling Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public rally at Jhunsi in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Gandhi Monday launched the party's campaign in the Uttar Pradesh state ahead of the upcoming state election.Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

BARA BANKI: As the battle for Uttar Pradesh hots up, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he would not shy away from a controversy and is prepared to sweat it out in the Hindi heartland.
Not cowed down by criticism over his earlier remarks that people from Uttar Pradesh are forced to go and beg outside the state, Congress General Secretary repeated the same on Tuesday in Bara Banki.
Kick starting a five day tour to gear up the party workers for the crucial 2012 assembly polls, Gandhi said that politicians from UP never cared to mingle with the masses. "They do not get down from their cars and confine themselves to TV studios. But I have often got down from my car and spoken to beggars in Delhi. Most of them told me that they are from UP" said Rahul Gandhi.
He had earlier made the remark while starting the Congress election campaign at a rally in Phulpur on the outskirts of Allahabad on 14 November, which had invited widespread condemnation and was labeled by opposition parties as demeaning to the people of UP.
Clearly Gandhi seemed in no mood to be apologetic and instead pointed out the reasons for his remark. He said that the state has lagged behind others during the last 20 years of rule by the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party which led to migration of people to other states where they were forced to do menial jobs.
He warned that these parties would again do the same if they came back to power and expressed confidence that the Congress would form its government this time.
""It is not the leaders but the common man who will enable the Congress to form its government this time. We will make UP stand on its legs within 5 years and I am sure in 10 years it would one of the most developed state of the country"" said Rahul Gandhi at the rally in Bara Banki which also saw ego clashes among the local leaders of the party, which has long been the bane of Congress trying hard to revive itself in UP where it has been sidelined for the last two decades.
Supporters of union Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma and SC/ST Commission Chairman PL Punia clashed at the rally site just before Gandhis arrival.
Bara Banki is the home town of Kurmi caste leader Beni Prasad Verma while former Chief Secretary and one time Mayawati confidante PL Punia was elected as the MP from here in 2009. Both have been at loggerheads with each other over say in the Congress affairs at the district level. The town also lies in the centre of the region where the Congress did well in the 2009 parliamentary polls with six MPs being elected from here. Gandhi has chosen to start his mass contact program from this region hoping for a repeat showing in next years polls.
He would be covering Bara Banki represented by MP PL Punia; Bahraich which elected Kamal Kishore as ist MP; Shravasti represented by MP Vinay Kumar; Maharajganj MP Harsh Vardhan Singh and Padrauna represented by MP and union minister RPN Singh.
The area has substantial presence of Muslim and Kurmi caste which the Congress has been trying to woo away from the Samajwadi Party.
Rahul Gandhi's five day tour during which he would be staying the night in districts signals the Congress General secretary's willingness to devote more time to the poll bound state and stake his all in the forthcoming polls which would be crucial to his stature within the Congress setup.

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