Chandigarh: Questioning the rationale behind opposition to the Centre's economic decisions by the BJP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday alleged that the party's only intent "is to halt work" and oppose every welfare move of the UPA government.

Winding up his two-day visit to Punjab, Gandhi lashed out at the BJP-led NDA, saying they were opposing the policies of the Congress, meant to take the country forward, without basis.

"Our government brought FDI. Its meaning is giving the farmer what he deserves... his rightful share. When the BJP-led NDA government was in (power at the Centre in) Delhi, they were not opposed to FDI. We did it, they are opposing it," he said.

"We gave MANREGA and land acquisition bill, they have opposed it. They want to stop work. Ask them what you want to do, they will not reply. What Congress wants to do, they want to stop. Because they know that if they let us work, we will change this country. But we will not stop," said Rahul.

The young Congress leader was addressing a rally organised by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) at Punjab University campus here this afternoon.

Making a mention of Punjab, he said "what is happening to human resources in Punjab. 7 out of 10 youth have the problem of drugs."

Gandhi also claimed that the Punjab government was not giving unemployment allowance to youth.

"We (Centre) send scholarship money for SC, ST categories. It is not utilised here (in Punjab) and is sent back" he claimed.

Appreciating presence of a large number of girl students in the crowd, Rahul said he hoped to see a woman becoming a Chief Minister in Punjab 10-15 years down the line.
Rahul said that he met 30 Ambassadors from Europe in Delhi two days back and many among them had expressed concern and looked worried about sluggish economic growth in many of their countries and the US as well.

Quoting the diplomats, Rahul said they were talking about Europe and discussing the world affairs and some said the economic growth had slowed down in many countries, but not in China and India.

"One diplomat had said that the last century was dominated by Saudi Arabia, because of it being rich in oil, and this century belongs to India because the country was blessed with crores of youths and human resource was its biggest asset," Rahul said.

He said that if the 20th century was that of oil as the source of energy, also called black gold, the 21st century is that of human resources, which were the youth of a country.

"We have enough human resource and a diplomat told me that 21st century's Saudia Arabia, with its rich human resource, is India," the Nerhu-Gandhi scion said in his eight-minute speech.

Seeing good attendance of the youth at the function, in which Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh, state's Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar, NSUI president Rohit Chaudhry were among others present, Rahul urged the youth to enter politics and bring a change.

"I have been in politics for eight years. One thing I see clearly, the level and depth of participation of youth is not there. Whether in jobs, corruption, development, you are the solution and you can bring about a change," said Rahul, wearing a white kurta and a blue jeans.

Striking a chord with the youth, he told them "you have to run this country. You have the power and the knowledge to run it. We want you to come to politics, cleanse it and change it."

Taking a dig at those parties who were sceptical about the success of holding elections to the youth bodies, Rahul said the NSUI and Youth Congress, the student and youth wings of the Congress, were the only ones to give youth a chance to enter politics.

"Doors of politics were closed for you. We opened them in NSUI and youth Congress. Today, lakhs of youth, who do not come from any political background or have any relatives in politics, are in our organisation," he said.

When we talked of elected NSUI and youth Congress in Punjab, other parties said this cannot be done. We did it and showed to them not only in Punjab but in whole India. We did this because we wanted you to come forward and bring about a change, he said.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday held discussions with former Punjab Congress Presidents and District Congress Committee chiefs to solicit their views on strengthening the party in the state.

The meeting was kept out of bounds for the media.

Those whom he met included Ambika Soni, Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, Mohinder Singh Gill, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and H S Hanspal, party sources said here.

The sources said, Rahul Gandhi met them to solicit their views about strengthening the party in the state.

He spent about half an hour with the ex-PCC presidents and held a "free and frank" discussion with everyone.

Later he met former DCC presidents from across the state.

They also presented their point of view about the party functioning and suggested various measures to improve the performance of the party in the state, the sources said.

Later, Ambika Soni said, the Congress General Secretary had sought the opinion of the senior party leaders about the working of the party.

Rahul also paid a visit to the Benat Singh memorial in the city. The memorial is being constructed in the memory of late Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh who died in a powerful car bomb blast outside the secretariat in the city.


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