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Sonia becomes emotional at institute named after Rajiv

IANS  |  Kottayam (Kerala) 

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in an emotionally charged speech on Wednesday, hit back at her late husband Rajiv Gandhi's detractors who criticised him for leaning heavily on the development of information technology and telecommunication when he was the prime minister.

"He was bitterly criticised, attacked, ridiculed and tagged as an elitist when he ushered in a revolution in the IT and telecommunication sector. But he persevered with it and today, yesterday's critics have now taken over the legacy of his," Gandhi said.

"Rajiv Gandhi brought India into the IT and telecommunication arena and now we are recognised as a leading player in this field," Gandhi said at the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, currently rated as one of the leading engineering colleges in the state.

Gandhi at one point of time stuttered a little, but maintained poise and composure, and finished her speech.

The institute was set up by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in his assembly constituency, when he was the state's finance minister in 1991. It was the first institution in the country named after Rajiv Gandhi.

Meanwhile, Chandy also took on his detractors, especially the BJP which criticised the state government for breaching protocol by inviting Gandhi - who is only a Lok Sabha member - to inaugurate a function at a state government organisation.

"It was in my budget speech in 1991 that I decided to set up this college. At that time, Sonia Gandhi was not an MP, nor was she in Then we waited for 10 years to get her here, but on one occasion the date had to be changed after tsunami struck and the second time it had to be cancelled after elections were declared," he said.

Chandy said the desire among people to bring Sonia Gandhi to Kerala was there for a long time.

"What has triumphed today has been the aspirations of the people, who wanted Sonia Gandhi to come and it has happened," he said.

Newly-appointed state BJP president Kummanem Rajashekeran, in a Facebook post, wanted to know the rationale behind inviting Gandhi for the function.

He said that with Gandhi now an accused in a corruption case, the message being sent to the student community was not good.

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First Published: Wed, December 30 2015. 18:28 IST