BARPETA, April 7 � Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said Congress governments are committed to the development of all communities and sections and made no distinction between Hindus and Muslims, reports PTI.
�The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre and the Tarun Gogoi-led government in Assam have undertaken several schemes for the development of minorities as we are committed to improve their social and economic condition,� Singh told an election rally here.
He said of the 13 minority-dominated districts in Assam, Barpeta was prominent among them. �I have been told that here too the implementation of various schemes for the minorities is going on very well.�
The UPA government has taken up a 15-point programme for the development of minorities with special emphasis on providing better education facilities.
�I congratulate Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and his team for bringing rapid development in the state and to take the good work forward, I appeal to the people of Assam to return them to power,� he said.
According to Singh, the situation during AGP rule 10 years ago was so bad that government employees did not receive salaries, there was complete breakdown in law and order and development had come to a complete standstill.
Under the Tarun Gogoi government the situation was the complete opposite with new engineering and medical colleges coming up, rapid agricultural and industrial development and many corporate houses willing to invest in the state creating employment opportunities for the youth.
Appealing to the people to vote for the Congress, he said, �We appeal to the people of Assam to give the party another chance to take the good work further forward.�
He said the Congress governments are �sensitive to the needs of the people and initiated several schemes for the uplift of backward sections of society�.
Under Bharat Nirman programme, government was trying to ensure roads, drinking water, electricity and housing in rural areas, while under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, Food Security Mission and Food Security Act, the poor and weaker sections would be provided foodgrains at lower rates, he said.
The government has also ensured 100 days employment for the poor under the NREGA, better health facilities under NRHM and the Right to Education Act, he said.
�We will soon bring in the Food Security Act soon so that the poor will get foodgrains at lower rates,� he said.
On the ULFA issue, Singh said that talks with the leaders were positive and hoped that a solution would be worked out soon.
The Prime Minister said he was convinced that the people would not be misguided by false promises of AGP and BJP and would vote for the Congress to strengthen the hands of Sonia Gandhi. He also wished the people for the forthcoming Rongali Bihu festival.
Hazare to fast till demands conceded
New Delhi, April 7 � Government today began talks with anti-corruption campaigners led by Gandhian Anna Hazare and agreed to form a joint committee to draft an effective Lokpal Bill but there was no consensus on who will head it and whether it should be notified, reports PTI.
As his hunger strike entered the third day, the 71-year-old social activist rejected government�s offer of an informal committee and vowed not to end his protest till the demands are met.
�I will fight till death,� he said addressing hundreds of supporters gathered near Jantar Mantar here after word spread that talks between government and anti-corruption activists were deadlocked.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the government�s reluctance to come out with a notification to constitute the committee, he said his fast will continue.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who is in the Group of Ministers on corruption and deputed by Prime Minister, held two rounds of talks today with activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal on their demand for a joint committee with members of civil society and government representatives in equal measure for drafting an effective Lokpal Bill.
Another round of talks will be held tomorrow morning.
�We had two rounds of discussions. We have agreed on almost all issues but there is no agreement on two issues, that is issuing an official notification to form the committee and making Hazare the chairman of the committee,� Sibal told reporters after the second round of talks at his residence.
�So we need more time and we will meet again tomorrow and see we can evolve a procedure with which we can move ahead,� Sibal said.
He said the government has agreed to form the committee now and not after May 13 as it had suggested in the first round of talks and will definitely be introducing the Bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
In his address to the supporters in the evening, Hazare said politicians do not want a Lokpal Bill because that will stop the �loot�.
�Scams like 2G, Commonwealth Games and Adarsh housing have come to the light but scamsters are not going to jail. We want a Lokpal Bill so that we can send the corrupt to jail and get them hanged,� Hazare said to a thunderous applause from the gathering.
�People ask me you are a Gandhian and talking about hanging. But I tell them that the situation is such that we should not only follow Gandhi but Chhtarapati Shivaji Maharaj. This is the demand of the society and the country.�
He said people will make the government behave. �If they do not listen to people, people will send them out of power,� the veteran Gandhian said.
Dismissing reservations from the government about involving civil society activists in the drafting committee, he said, �They don�t know the meaning of democracy. People are sovereign and the ministers are servants. People have every right to question when their treasury is being looted.�
To a question, he said, �All the the corrupt ministers should quit the cabinet.�
When a question was popped about his preference for a retired judge to head the committee but there are also judges like former CJI K G Balakrishnan, Hazare shot back, �We will not allow corrupt people to come into the committee�.