Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said the Congress-led UPA government had always stood up for the rights of Sri Lankan Tamils and had been in the forefront to protect the needs of the Indian fishermen.
Speaking at Kanyakumari in her first visit to the state after the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, she attacked the AIADMK government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and put forward the Congress party’s promises including Right to — free medical care, shelter and pension among others.
She said during the ten years of the UPA government, the country’s economy grew an average 7.5 per cent.
Responding to the criticism of political parties in Tamil Nadu that the Congress had done nothing for the Sri Lankan Tamils, she said, “I want to ask them if there is any party which has done more than the Congress party for the Sri Lankan Tamils? Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed his life while fighting for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.”
The party had been unwavering in its commitment to Sri Lankan Tamils and the Union government had always stood up for their rights, she added.
Since 2009, the government had extended every kind of assistance, support for the resettlement of internally-displaced persons, housing, education, connectivity and economic revival.
“It was only due to our efforts that fishermen of both the countries were able to meet in January this year. I can tell you it took considerable time and effort to obtain the concurrence of the AIADMK government here to allow the meeting,” she added.
She urged people not to be misled by the false propaganda by its opponents.
Mentioning the party’s commitment to bring Right to-- free medical care, shelter, pension among others, she said if the Congress-led government came to power, she would do her best to fulfil the demands of people, which include building a double track broad gauge railway project up to Kanyakumari, safeguarding the interests of people living in the forest area, fishermen, airport and a central university in Kanyakumari.
She criticised the BJP is in the hands of one individual. “This individual claims to have the solution for all the problems of India. He claims, if he comes to power, India will become a paradise. You must reject the unbridled ambition of this one individual,” she said.
Leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives for safeguarding the idea of India, which stands on the side of secularism, diversity, equal opportunity, reservation for Dalits, and of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other backward classes, minorities, women and children, she said.
The UPA rule lifted 140-million people out of poverty, she said. Schemes such as MGNREGA, mid-day meal scheme and the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana had benefitted Tamil Nadu, the Congress president said.