KONDAGAON/KANKER (TIP): BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on November 7 virtually came face-to-face in the poll campaign in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region where they clashed over the Maoist attacks that had wiped out the entire state Congress leadership and over governance. While Sonia tore into the state government citing lack of development, Modi retaliated by alleging that the Congress was “misleading” the country on issues such as development, inflation and employment generation. “In the past five years, we have given a lot of funds for development. But the pace of work on development of roads has been very slow… Apart from fighting the government here, our government has come out with a Land Acquisition Act, Food Security Act and various development schemes. But the basic difference between the Congress and the BJP is: they only talk big and don’t do any work,” she said. In the first direct attack on Sonia in recent times, Modi said she should speak up on coal and 2G spectrum scams and alleged that the Congress was “misleading” the country on issues such as development, inflation and employment generation. Addressing an election rally in Kanker soon after Sonia’s public meeting in Kondagaon, he took a dig at her for saying the Congress believed in “doing work silently rather than speaking” and said the coal block allocation and 2G spectrum scams were prime examples of that.

Sonia in her speech alleged that poverty was on the rise in Chhattisgarh while Modi rebutted the charge saying the people had prevented “looters” (Congress) from coming to power by voting for the BJP. “If the Congress had come to power, one could imagine what would have happened,” he said. Both leaders were on a whirlwind tour of the Maoistdominated tribal areas of Bastar whose 18 seats go to the polls on November 11. In the morning security, forces defused two IEDs weighing 50 kg in the Dantewada area of the district. Sonia targeted the Raman Singh government on the handling of the security situation. “You all know the security situation in the state. I want to ask all of you here, what kind of government is this? Innocents are being killed in Maoist violence.” “This year itself, Congress leaders have sacrificed their lives in Maoist attacks and we are all very sad about it. We are feeling their loss in a big way today. The CM was forced to admit to his government’s failure. But, I want to ask you what is the use of shedding crocodile tears,” she said. Sonia hoped that the people of Chhattisgarh would not fall prey to false promises and assurances.

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