New Delhi, Nov 14: Rahul Gandhi's comments on migration of people from UP to other states for jobs today sparked a political slugfest as BJP termed it as an “insult” to the people while Congress dismissed the criticism as reflection of Opposition's “restlessness” over its “rise”.
“This is an insult to the people of Uttar Pradesh. How many times Rahul Gandhi has gone to Maharashtra and has seen people from UP and Bihar begging there. He has hurt the sentiments of the people of UP.... I have never seen a person from UP and Bihar begging in Maharashtra,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The Congress alleged that the Opposition was rattled over the rise of the party in Uttar Pradesh and there was nothing objectionable in what Rahul said in Phulpur today, from where he kicked off his party's election campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
“The reaction of Opposition parties to what Rahul has said proves the impact of his words. It is evident from the restlessness of the Opposition that they have now begun fearing the rise of Congress in UP,” AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here.
“What Rahul Gandhi said is clearly linked to the state's self-pride (Swabhimaan). How can this be called an insult, if somebody says that people of his state should not be roaming around here and there in search of livelihood,” he said.
Accusing Mayawati government of being corrupt, having siphoned-off central funds and being insensitive to the poor, Gandhi said, “people of Uttar Pradesh are appreciated for their hard work, wherever they go in search of job....How long will you beg in Maharashtra (for work)? How long will you work as labourer in Punjab?....”
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary said, “BJP can understand insult only if it can understand honour.”
When pointed out that the BJP feels that the terms used by Gandhi in the rally were “derogatory”, Chaudhary hit out at the party saying, “BJP itself is derogatory to the nation, to the secular credential of the country. They better look in their own backyard than pointing fingers at others.”
She said Gandhi must have made the remarks to awaken the self-pride of “his people” in Uttar Pradesh with whom he shares “special affection”.
To repeated questions on the issue, Chaudhary disapproved of singling out one particular word from a full speech saying the context in which Gandhi made the remarks needs to be understood.
Backing Gandhi's remarks, Dwivedi said that poverty and employment are biggest enemies of society and these problems should be removed from areas where they are predominant.
“The best thing is that people get employment locally,” he said. The AICC general secretary cited UPA's flagship rural job scheme MGNREGA as an example to arrest migration of people for work.
Asked about the scuffle between workers of Congress and Samajwadi Party activists who staged a black flag demonstration, Chaudhary said it was a “natural reflex” and the real issue is how they could reach near Gandhi, breaking the security cordon.
SP activists belonging to its youth wing sought to advance towards the helipad in Phulpur trying to show blackflags and raising slogans which was countered by a group of Congress workers, who allegedly roughed them up.