NARHARPUR: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday accused the Congress of forging "ties with Naxals" to remain in power in Chhattisgarh before 2003.
The BJP government in the state had succeeded in containing the Maoist menace, Shah said, addressing a tribal convention at Narharpur in the insurgency-hit Kanker district.
Targeting the Congress ahead of the state Assembly polls over various issues, he challenged the opposition party to an open debate on its development track record.
The convention marked the conclusion of the Atal Vikas Yatra campaign launched by Chief Minister Raman Singh to highlight the achievements of his 15-year rule.
"Chhattisgarh once reverberated with the sound of bullets. I have no hesitation in saying that the earlier Congress government (before the BJP came to power in the state in 2003) had forged ties with Naxals to stay in power. We broke that nexus and cracked down on Naxals. Entire Chhattisgarh is gradually getting rid of Naxalism and heading on the path of development," Shah said.
When Chhattisgarh came into existence, it was dubbed as one of the "Bimaru" (backward/sick) states and despite being in power for the initial three years, the Congress did nothing to boost its economic growth, he alleged.
The Congress did nothing to maintain law and order, curb Naxalism, eradicate hunger and uplift the forest-dwellers, despite being in power for 55 years at the Centre, the BJP chief said.
"Atalji (then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) founded the state and Raman Singh developed it," he said.
Shah mentioned the 24-hour power supply, road connectivity in the interior villages, purchase of forest produce at a minimum support price and other development works as some of Singh's achievements in the last 15 years.
He slammed the Congress over a scandal triggered by the circulation of a "sex CD", purportedly featuring state Public Works Department Minister Rajesh Munat.
Munat has filed a case against state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel for allegedly trying to malign his image by circulating the CD.
"The BJP will be contesting the polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Singh, but I want to ask Congress president Rahul Baba (Rahul Gandhi), who will lead the Congress? Will it be those who shamefully manufacture fake CDs for character assassination?" Shah asked.
"Are you (Gandhi) going ahead with a leader, who allegedly indulged in character assassination through fake CDs for seeking the mandate in Chhattisgarh?" "Our mothers and sisters here are waiting to settle the score over the CD issue and rout the Congress," he said.
The BJP never indulged in the politics of "chaturai" (cunningness), Shah said.
He challenged the Congress to a debate on the work done during Modi's four-year rule and Raman Singh's 15-year tenure as against the opposition party's "55-year rule".
"People have two options in the coming polls. The first is the Congress which only talked about 'garibi hatao' (remove poverty) but removed the poor instead, while the other is the BJP, which, without raising slogans, ensured power supply to every house, provided houses for all, built toilets and gave bonus to the Tendu leave collectors," Shah said.
Earlier, after arriving at the Raipur airport, Shah flew in a helicopter to Sihawa, the origin of the Mahanadi river in Dhamtari district, where he offered prayers at the Mahamai Temple at Farsia village.
Shah's visit to Sihawa and Narharpur is being seen by political observers as an attempt to woo the tribal population of Chhattisgarh.
The Assembly polls are scheduled to be held in the state later this year.