Saturday, April 11, 2009

Top leaders fail to touch Naxal issue

Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Raipur, April 11
Saturday turned out to be an eventful day for both the BJP and the Congress in Chhattisgarh, slated to go to poll on April 16. Its top leaders landed in the state to woo the electorate, but none of them even remotely referred to, let alone make any strong statements, on either the problem of Naxalism or the Friday’s Naxalite incident in the state in which 10 CRPF personnel lost their lives.

Congress scion Rahul Gandhi addressed public meetings in Vishrampur in Naxalite-affected Sarguja and Navapara Rajim in the Mahasamund Lok Sabha constituency in his third visit to the state so far in these general elections. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani landed in Raipur for his first general election rally in the state, where the BJP appears to be finding itself sitting relatively comfortable at this point of time.

Incidentally, Rahul is the only national-level star power to have represented the Congress in the state so far, though party sources say that party president Sonia Gandhi is likely to visit Chhattisgarh on April 14 in support of Bilaspur candidate and wife of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, Renu Jogi.

Ajit Jogi is perceived to be very close to 10 Janpath, which is the reason that state Congress leadership is confident that Sonia will definitely make a visit to the state before electioneering ends.

Interestingly, on Saturday Rahul chose to spend maximum time in his short speeches explaining to the people as to why he preferred making short speeches. In his reply to the Opposition parties, which have been criticising him for giving brief speeches.

“The Opposition says I don’t give long speeches. I give brief speeches because I would rather understand and reach out to people than speak for two to three hours,” Gandhi said at a public meeting at Rajim, some 45 km from Chhattisgarh capital Raipur.

Advani in his speech focused largely on the issue of terrorism in the country, black money stashed in foreign accounts and the good governance during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

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