Sunday, Nov 30, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party against whom it is pitted in a straight fight in all the four States the Congress in a wrap-up statement, said other parties want only the ``perks and pelfs of power to feather their own nests'' and ``these merchants of hate and prejudice have held our country hostage since 1998.''
Stating that a vote for the Congress would be a ``vote for jobs and social harmony'', the party's chief spokesman, S. Jaipal Reddy, drew upon the party's past, right from the freedom struggle days, traced its role in steering the independent India till 1998 and highlighted the work being done in various States by its governments.
Of the view that the Congress had tried to provide basic services ``that help people help themselves'' in the four States, the appeal underlined the ``major achievements'' of each State. In the case of Delhi, the `Bhagidari' scheme was flaunted as the policy that had set off a flurry of development initiatives in transportation, power and water, created news jobs and ``visibly improved the quality of life in the Capital''.
As for Rajasthan, the party's claim was that the State Government had successfully invited investment in tourism and industrial development. This year's monsoons having come as a godsend after successive years of drought, the statement acknowledged nature's bounty also.
For Madhya Pradesh, the highlight was the State Government's emphasis on panchayati raj, giving the dominant rural population a voice in development priorities. This apart, the State's focus on primary education and public health had, according to the Congress, created a new confidence about the future.
And, in the case of Chhattisgarh which is headed for its maiden election the Congress maintained that the State Government had steered clear from the State-dominance model of economic growth and encouraged local private sector initiatives in power, transport, education and water management.
Claims of the four States' individual ``successes'' notwithstanding, the sum and substance of the plea was that the Congress came to power five years ago on development agenda, ``served rather than ruled,'' and is seeking a return so that the party could continue with its ``single-minded focus on creating employment opportunities and fostering social harmony through its policies and priorities.''
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