Targeting the Narendra Modi government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said time has come to "liberate" Gujarat from divisive politics and regretted that minorities were feeling "insecure" in the BJP-ruled state.
"Unlike the Opposition we do not play politics of dividing the people. Such type of politics is bad in itself and for a longer period of time cannot be beneficial for a political party," Singh said addressing his first poll rally in this tribal town of Navsari district in south Gujarat.
"The time has come to liberate Gujarat from this type of politics and to not let those people come back to power, who have been trying to get votes by dividing our society and country," Singh said without naming Modi.
"Congress party has always acted to unite the people of country. We know that if there are fissures in our people on the lines of religion, caste, creed and clan...then we cannot surge ahead as a nation," he said.
"We have been getting regular complaints that minorities and few other segments of society are feeling insecure in the state. Even a few state government officers have filed such complaints, which is very unfortunate for our country," Singh said.
"It is a matter of great regret that such type of environment has been created in the land of Mahatma Gandhi."
The Prime Minister also sought to pick holes in development claims of the Modi government, saying it has failed to take growth to the needy sections of society.
"Development in Gujarat is only for a few people. A big portion of the population here has remained untouched by this economic development. Because of the policies of the state government, there is an imbalance in the society," he said.
"The foundation of Gujarat's development was laid by the Congress governments in 70s. It is due to the hardworking people of this state that it is considered to be developing," Singh said.
"When we talk about progress then the question also arises who is benefiting from it. Are the benefits of development reaching the villages and people who have been left behind in the race for progress?
Are the benefits reaching minorities, scheduled tribes, scheduled caste....brother and sisters...women and children?" he asked.
"These are some very important questions which I want to raise with regards to Gujarat...I have to say it with great sorrow that the state BJP government in this connection has been a total failure," he said.
"It is very unfortunate that in a developed state like Gujarat, 41 per cent of women are victims of malnourishment.
...if you look at women between 15-50 years age group then you will find that 55 per cent women are anaemic," Singh said.
"I want to draw your attention towards the fact that if we take a look at top 20 states in terms of human development Gujarat ranks 18. You will have to think what is the reason behind this," he said.
The Prime Minister said the public health sector was not in a good state in Gujarat and new employment opportunities for the youth were also not being generated.
"Gujarat has not been able to spend a large amount of Centre's fund sent for employment generation in rural areas of the state. No new employment opportunities are being generated here for unemployed youths," he said.
Comparing the performance of the BJP government with the one led by Congress, he said, the Congress is trying to work in those directions which great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi have set.
"We have in our efforts always taken care of the need of every segment of the society," Singh said.
Listing various schemes introduced by his government for welfare of marginalised sections of the society like tribal, poor, farmers and minority community, the Prime Minister said, "If you elect Congress government in the state then the state government and Central government can jointly implement these schemes effectively in Gujarat."
He also raised the issue of incomplete work of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam canal and water problems being faced by people in the state.
"I have been told that there is a shortage of drinking water in your area. I regret that the state government is not properly utilising the fund being made available by the Central government for drinking water," he said.
"In past more then 10 years, only 26 percent of work of Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam project has been completed. If Congress party forms government in the state, then we will speed up the work and try our best to bring happiness in each and every village and provide all the benefits to the farmers which they are truly entitled for," Singh said.