Modi, BJP Making Hollow Promises With Kashmiris, Says Sonia Gandhi

10 December 2014
Greater Kashmir
Khalid Gul

Srinagar: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP are 'making hollow promises' to Kashmir's flood victims. Addressing a public rally in this constituency in south Kashmir's Anantnag (Islamabad) district, Sonia slammed the BJP-led government for 'tardy' relief and rehabilitation of flood victims of Jammu and Kashmir. In an attempt to strike an emotional chord with people, she said: 'I am not here to do politics over the flood tragedy. But it is a fact that Bhajpa (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have only been making hollow promises to the flood victims and indulging in rhetoric. Modi is least concerned about your grief.' To this, people responded with the slogan: 'shame..shame.' She promised a 'comprehensive package for reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood victims if Congress is voted to power in J&K.' Earlier, Sonia arrived at the venue amid thundering applause from the party supporters while she greeted them saying 'Asalam-u-Alikum.' She started her speech by expressing grief over the flood tragedy that hit Kashmir in September and lauded people for their resilience and valor. 'My heart goes out to the flood victims of Kashmir. I can well understand what you have gone through. But at the same time I feel proud that you stood up and coped well. We respect you for your resilience and valor,' she told the people. Sonia said the assembly polls are being held 'when you are still battling with the flood tragedy. I salute you for participating in the democratic exercise with such great enthusiasm.' She said she along with Rahul Gandhi visited Anantnag after the floods and 'did whatever we could.' She reminded people about the 'speedy relief and rehabilitation' of 2005 earthquake victims during the Congress-led regime when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the State Chief Minister. She also talked about developmental initiatives taken during the Congress rule in J&K. 'The State saw overall developmental in every sector like health, education, road infrastructure and tourism during our rule. We believe in equitable development of all regions of the state and all people irrespective of their religion, caste and sect,' she said. She said 'even the security scenario in the state saw improvement during the Congress rule.' Sonia apprised people about the need of a 'strong government to keep communal forces at bay.' 'It is true that were not able to deliver what we could have in a coalition set-up (with National Conference). But to keep communal forces away and to safeguard the secular fabric of the state and its Kashmiriyat, the coalition becomes inevitable,' she said. She concluded her speech by appealing people to 'give Congress party a clear mandate to usher the state into an era of peace, progress and prosperity.' As she left the venue, she asked the supporters to chant the slogan 'Jai Hind' (Long live India). A handful of them responded. AT THE VENUE Braving morning chill, people in large numbers thronged a playground in Ranipora village here, situated on a hillock in this South Kashmir area of Anantnag district, to listen to Sonia who was scheduled to address the election rally in support of party candidate Gulzar Ahmad Wani. The venue was decorated with buntings of Congress party and banners of Sonia Gandhi, Congress' Kashmir affairs in-charge Ambika Soni and State Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saif-u-din Soz. Sonia was scheduled to address the rally at 11:30 am. However, the Congress supporters from all six constituencies of Anantnag district thronged the venue from 9 am. Outside the venue, the security forces were struggling to manage the large number of vehicles ferrying the party supporters that included men, women and children. All vehicles were halted three kms before the venue and enthusiastic Congress supporters preferred to walk in small processions, shouting slogans in favour of the party and Gandhi family, to the venue. The supporters were draped in Congress flags and donning caps with party symbol (hand). 'I am a fan of Sonai Ji and have come all along from Verinag Dooru to listen to her. Our MLA Mir sahib always talks high of her and she understands our pain,' said a young girl Rubiya. She said that the party had arranged vehicles for them. An elderly person, Haji Ali Muhammad of Chatergul village of Shangus, said he has a long association with the party. 'Congress is the only secular party and has been always concerned about the progress of the state,' he said. Women from different villages of Shangus were seen thronging the venue, singing traditional Kashmiri songs while men were beating drums in support of Gulzar Wani. At least 9000 to 10,000 people attended the rally.