Congress President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to poll-bound Meghalaya on Tuesday came down heavily on the Bharatiya Janata Party for offering money for the churches of Meghalaya ahead of the Assembly polls.
While speaking a election rally held at Jowai, the district headquarters of Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, Gandhi said, “You will find the BJP has a lot of money. These days their leadership believes that everything can be bought.”
In reference to the Rs 70-crore package announced by the BJP-led Central government for development of places of worship in Meghalaya, Gandhi said, “I was very sad to hear that the BJP offered money to our churches in what I consider to be huge sum to the people of Meghalaya and the churches.”
He said, “There is no price there is no amount of money that can buy the people of Meghalaya.”
Commenting on joining BJP by a number of political leaders, Rahul Gandhi said, “BJP may buy a few leaders here and there; few leaders may defect to the BJP or their proxy the NPP.”
Stating that ‘vote to NPP is voting BJP’, the Congress president said, “But they (NPP-BJP) will not be able to change the future of Meghalaya.”
Addressing the gathering, Rahul Gandhi lauded the culture, language and religious customs of the people of Meghalaya.
He said, “I am here to tell you that we are proud of your culture and language and religious customs and we are to defend them with you.”
“We are not going to allow the imposition of one idea on top of India or any other of its States. We are going to work with you, defend your languages and tribal customs because we are proud of them and we are convinced that without your customs, culture and languages, India will be weakened.”
Speaking in favour of defending the idea of Meghalaya and its culture, Rahul Gandhi said, “We are defending the idea of Meghalaya and also the idea of a plural and inclusive India that we love.”
He further said that the battle is straight forward.
“It is embracing different cultures between love and dividing culture and creation of hatred,” he added.
He asserted that the Congress party is going to work together with different cultures, ideas when everybody feels that they can express what is in their hearts and say what they want and happily live in India that embraces them.
He also asked the Congress workers to work together to make sure that many of the party candidates win.
Regarding his relationship with the Northeast and Meghalaya, Rahul said, “I have an old relationship with Northeast and Meghalaya. My grandmother was fond of NE, father was fond of NE and I intend to come here often and spend a longer period with you and understand your culture and customs and under deeply what Meghalaya is.”