If voted to power, BJP will kill Mizo identity, says Rahul Gandhi

If voted to power, BJP will kill Mizo identity, says Rahul Gandhi

AIZAWL: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday warned Mizoram?s voters that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) will destroy the culture and identity of the state if the BJP is voted to power in assembly polls scheduled on 28 November.nnGandhi, who addressed two rallies in the tiny state wedged between Bangladesh and Myanmar and the last stronghold of the Congress in India?s North-East, also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of corruption, stating he had given industrialist Anil Ambani Rs 30,000 crore in the Rafale fighter jet deal.nnAt his rally in capital Aizawl, following another in Champhai along the Myanmar border, Gandhi said the BJP and the RSS were aiming to impose their ideology on the people of Mizoram, a predominately Christian state.nn?The BJP and the RSS feel one ideology, one idea should be imposed on India,? including Mizoram, he said. ?They want to crush local aspirations, they want to crush the histories, the languages and culture of all our states,? he said to a gathering of about 2,000 people.nn?They do not want India?s different states to have different ways of looking at the world,? he added.nnIn contrast, the Congress party wanted to defend the culture, language, the history and the religion of Mizoram, he said, adding, ?We believe these are your choices and that you have right to make whatever choice is important for your future…. we believe every single Indian state has the right to protect its identity, its languages, its culture and its history. And it is our belief that the best way to make India strong is to protect India?s diversity.?nn?I say with sadness that MNF is helping destroy the culture of the state by helping the BJP to enter the state,? he said, referring to the Mizo National Front, the principal opponent of the Congress in these elections.nnMizoram is seen as the last bastion of the Congress in India?s Northeast. The Congress had 34 seats in the outgoing 40-member assembly, but it has seen high-profile defections including by the speaker Hiphei, who has joined the BJP. The Congress has been in power in Mizoram since 2008 and the 76-year-old chief minister Lal Thanhawla is looking for his third consecutive term in office.nnIn the past three years, the Congress has seen its presence dwindle in the region ? with governments in five states now reduced to one. Besides Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah is also touring Mizoram, with Modi expected here later this week. Analysts say the BJP is unlikely to garner more than a handful of seats, but it could form a government offering support to a regional party ? most likely the MNF led by the 74-year-old Zoramthanga.nnRecalling his first visit to Mizoram in 1987 with his father, then prime minister Rajiv, Gandhi said the Mizo accord signed a year earlier under his father?s watch ended a bloody insurgency in the state. Crediting the people of the state with maintaining peace and achieving progress, Gandhi said he was confident the Mizo people would not ?give the keys of Mizoram to the BJP through the MNF.?nnAccusing the BJP of trying to subvert institutions by appointing people sympathetic to or subscribing to its ideology in key positions in the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Reserve Bank of India and the judiciary, Gandhi said merit was not a criteria for high level appointments any more.nnLaunching a scathing attack on Modi, Gandhi said one of the first things Modi had done as prime minister was to go to France in 2015, take industrialist Anil Ambani with him and alter the terms of the 2012 deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. This was done to benefit Ambani, Gandhi said, adding, ?The Prime minister gave ?30,000 crores to Anil Ambani … it is about Rs 35,00 crores to run NREGA (rural employment guarantee scheme) in the entire country.? According to the Ministry of Rural Development, about Rs 57,000 crore were spent on implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.nnOutlining his vision for Mizoram, he said that the Congress party would work towards providing jobs to the youth, making the state the eastern gateway to India just like Mumbai was on the west coast besides ensuring that Mizoram became a hub of trade with Bangladesh and Myanmar.nnSource: Press Trust of India

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