Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who kick-started the election campaign in Congress-ruled Meghalaya, today targeted the BJP government for offering money to churches in the state.
“I am very sad to hear that the BJP offered money to our churches in what I consider to be a huge sum to the people of Meghalaya and the churches,” Mr. Gandhi said addressing his party candidates and workers here in West Jaiñtia Hills district.
The Congress leader was referring to Union Tourism K.J.Alphons announcing a tourism package of Rs 70 crore to give facelift to religious institutions, including various Churches, Temples, Mosques and Gurdwaras.
“You will find the BJP has a lot of money. These days their leadership believes that everything can be bought,” he said.Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, State Congress President Celestine Lyngdoh, besides other senior Congress leaders accompanied Mr Gandhi.
Urging his party workers to ensure the victory of Congress candidates, he said, “Vote to NPP (National People’s Party) is voting to BJP but they will not be able to change the future of Meghalaya.”
“There is no price; there is no amount of money that can buy the people of Meghalaya. BJP may buy a few leaders here and there as few leaders may defect to the BJP or their proxy the NPP (National People’s Party),” he said.
Five Congress legislators – Rowell Lyngdoh, Prestone Tynsong, Coming One Ymbon, Sniawbhalang Dhar and Ngaitlang Dhar — had resigned as member of the Assembly as well as from the Congress and joined the NPP.
Congress legislator Alexander Hek, who was Health and Family Welfare Minister in Mukul Sangma-led government, was sacked last year as he joined the BJP.Mr. Tynsong, who was the Public Health Engineering minister in the Congress-led government, has been projected as the NPP’s Chief Ministerial candidate from Khasi-Jaintia Hills areas, which comprised of 36 assembly constituencies.
However, Mr Gandhi expressed confidence that neither the NPP nor BJP can change the future of Meghalaya.“The battle is straight forward. It is embracing different cultures between love and dividing culture and creation of hatred,” he said.
Moreover, Mr. Gandhi said that the Congress party is going to work together with our different cultures, ideas when everybody feels that they can express what is in their hearts and say what they want and happily live in India that embraces them.
“We will defend the idea of Meghalaya and when we defend your culture we are defending the idea of Meghalaya and also the idea of plural and inclusive India that we love,” the Congress leader said.
Later in the evening, Gandhi returned to Shillong and met Pradesh Congress Committee party workers.The AICC Chief also attended a peace concert held at Polo Ground.
On Wednesday, the AICC president is also expected to meet the religious heads and women groups besides an informal interaction with the media persons before winding up his two-day tour.