UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on her maiden visit to Telangana after the formation of the state in June 2014, on Friday, attacked TRS chief and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for running a "family rule" in Telangana and "failing" to respond to the aspirations of people of the state.
In a show of strength by the Congress-led opposition alliance, leaders of its constituents-- the TDP, Telangana Jana Samiti and CPI - shared the dais with them at an election rally at Medchal on the city's outskirts.
Sonia Gandhi recalled the problems the Congress party faced due to its decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. She said despite being aware of adverse political consequences, the Congress went ahead and created Telangana, and paid the price in the elections that followed.
"It (carving out Telangana) was not an easy task. It was no small decision. But former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party decided to form Telangana state," she told the rally. The Congress intends to use its role in the creation of Telangana as a major election plank to blunt Rao's claim that a protracted agitation led by him forced the Centre's hand.
The decision to field Sonia Gandhi, who has hardly addressed an election meeting in a long time, apparently stemmed from the Congress's desire to appeal to the pro-Telangana sentiments of the voters.
"Chief Minister Rao has cared only for himself and his own people leaving the child (Telangana) to suffer. "Dalits, adivasis, minorities, backward classes, women and students were all neglected. The chief minister should tell us what promises he made to them and he kept," she said.
She said she was "very sad" that development which was expected after the state's formation had not happened under the TRS dispensation which disappointed youth by its failure to provide them jobs. Farmer suicides were taking place and agriculturists were still facing water scarcity, the UPA chairperson said.
"The TRS government failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of the state," she said, adding it did not implement the land acquisition law enacted by the UPA government. The people did not reap full benefit of the UPA dispensation's flagship rural employment scheme MNREGA under Rao's government, she said.
"Through this meeting I appeal to you to vote for the Congress and allied parties, and ensure their victory. Extend your support for the development of Telangana," she said even as she reaffirmed the Congress party's commitment to special category status for Andhra Pradesh. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attacked Chandrasekhar Rao, saying "only one man ran Telangana for the last five years. He did whatever came to his mind for his family".
"I am asking what did the TRS government do for dalits, tribals, backward classes...what promises were fulifilled?" he said and predicted that the TRS rule was all set to end.
The Congress leader said it was to provide jobs to the unemployed youth and to address the problems of farmers that the Congress had formed an alliance with the TDP, CPI and the TJS.
"The alliance government will work for the people and not for one person. The dreams for which you fought (for creation of Telangana) the CM did not fulfil. This alliance with fulfil them," he said.
In her speech, Sonia assailed Rao for trying to perpetuate family rule. "What did the TRS government do for women and youth of Telangana in the past four years? If at all there was any development, it was only of one family (of KCR)," she said.
Comparing Telangana to a newborn baby, the UPA chairperson said every mother wishes her children to grow up well. "But I feel sad when I see the people of Telangana (suffer) and the state of affairs here," she said, seeking to strike an emotional chord with the people of the state.
Lok Sabha member Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, who quit the TRS a few days ago citing "disappointment" with the party leadership, formally joined the Congress at the rally.
Though TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was not present at the rally, the party was represented by its Telangana unit chief L Ramana. CPI state secretary Chada Venkat Reddy and TJS chief M Kodandaram besides Ramana addressed the rally.