ROORKEE: Alleging "loot" of natural resources and corruption in implementation of central schemes in Uttarakhand, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today asked people in the hill state to recognise the "fraud" being played with them and oust the BJP government from the state. "If the land, soil, water and hills of Uttarakhand are sold or leased at throwaway prices, then it is not progress but a fraud with people of the state.
"For last many years, this fraud is being played with the people of Uttarakhand and efforts are being made to hide this loot and dishonesty through various means," Gandhi said here kick-starting the party's election campaign in the state.
Attacking the B C Khanduri government of the state in her very first election speech in the state, Gandhi gave clear indications that the party would try to make a huge issue of the mining leases in the state over which Congress had also come out with a charge sheet. Ridiculing BJP's decision to replace former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank with Khanduri months before the elections, Gandhi said when the state government could not hide corruption and the "mask of honesty of the then CM got lost", BJP "changed its Chief Minister but not its deeds yet".
"A failed attempt was made to cheat you by changing the Chief Minister as it (BJP) sought to give an impression that it had changed. But truth is that nothing changed. The status of the loot and dishonesty is such that only 10 per cent of MNREGA fund given to the state could reach people," she said. The Congress President said the level of the state government's carelessness is such that only 40 per cent of the money given to it under the job scheme could be utilised.
"You will have to change this government of Uttarakhand...oust BJP. I am confident you will do this and give the Congress a majority here," she said. Gandhi said people of Uttarkhand could not derive benefits from central government schemes for development of all sections due to the "apathy" of the state government.
She also claimed that whatever development is visible even now in Uttarakhand was carried out in past by the Congress. Asserting that her party is aware of the problems of the people here, she said that the party manifesto for the state has a number of plans to bring back the state on development track.
"While on one hand, nature has given its bounty with open heart to Uttarakhand, on the other hand there are some people, who are destroying this bounty and allowing its loot," Gandhi said. She also reached out to ex-servicemen, who constitute a major chunk of voters in the state by referring to the legacy of sacrifices of youths of the state, who are serving as Jawans on the borders.
Attacking BJP for the alleged corruption in Kumbh Mela, she said, "...the mask of the (honesty worn by) then Chief Minister (Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank) got lost in the Kumbh Mela". Despite all these corruption scandals, Gandhi said the government did not "stop its misdeeds but only changed its face. "Nothing changed. Neither dishonesty, nor loot," she alleged.