Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appealed to the people of Telangana to exercise their franchise in large numbers as voting for the Assembly polls is underway.
Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly met on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa’s Johannesburg, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused Modi of “lying” on Chinese occupation on land in Ladakh.
The prime minister had said, “Not an inch of our land in Ladakh has been taken away by anyone.”
Addressing a huge public meeting in poll-bound Kargil on the last leg of his visit to the cold desert region, Rahul Gandhi said he travelled to every corner of Ladakh on motorcycle and at Pangong in the eastern Ladakh he found one thing very clear that China has taken away India’s land.
Ladakh is a strategic place but it is unfortunate that the prime minister in the meeting of political parties said that “not even an inch of land in Ladakh has been taken by China”, he said.
He mentioned his meeting with a cross-section of people across Ladakh to listen to the voice of what was in their heart. Taking an apparent dig at Modi, he said, “Other leaders are busy doing their ‘Mann Ki Baat’. I thought of listening to your ‘Mann Ki Baat’. One thing is quite clear – Gandhi Ji and Congress’ ideology is in Ladakh’s DNA.”
The Congress leader said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are spreading hatred in the country. The Congress on the other hand is spreading peace and harmony everywhere in the nation.
Speaking on his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul said, “A few months ago, we walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, it was called ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. The aim was to stand against hatred and violence spread by the BJP-RSS in the country. The message that came out of the yatra was-‘nafrat ke bazaar mein hum mohabbat ki dukaan kholne nikle hain’. In the last few days, I got to see this myself. At the time of the yatra, I could not visit Ladakh due to snow in winter. It was in my heart to conduct the yatra in Ladakh and I took it forward this time on a motorbike.”
The Congress leader’s visit came as the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Kargil (LAHDC) is set to go to the polls on 10 September. He said people of Kargil are patriots and have stood with the country during wars with Pakistan.
Rahul said although Ladakh has become a Union territory (UT), people told me that their political voice is being muzzled. “You are being deprived of your rights. You told me that the promises of employment made to you were false.”
He noted that the youth in particular feel that Ladakh has become the epicentre of unemployment.
Rahul said BJP was suppressing the voice of Ladakh people, but we are standing with them and also giving full support in getting their rights. I will raise the issues related to Ladakh in the next session of parliament, he said.
“Ladakh doesn’t have scarcity of natural resources and solar energy, and the people of BJP know this. This is a matter of land and they want to take away your land and give it to Adani but we will not let this happen,” said Rahul, adding BJP knows if they give powers to you then they would not be in a position to take away your land, he added.
The Congress leader announced Congress support to the demands of Leh’s Apex Body and Kargil Democratic Alliance that have chalked out a four-point agenda including full statehood for Ladakh, jobs for unemployed youth, protection under the sixth schedule and two seats in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha for Ladakh.
Later, Rahul left for Srinagar on a “personal visit” where he will be joined by his mother Sonia Gandhi next day, JKPCC chief Vikar Rasool Wani said.