Union govt promises relief for UP riot victims

BJP terms Rahul's visit secular tourism

Union Minister Manish Tewari on Tuesday said the Centre will ensure that the victims of the Muzzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh are rehabilitated, raising strong objections to the main opposition party’s comment that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was on “secular tourism” when he visited the strife-torn district recently.

“All the steps required to be taken to ensure rehabilitation of the victims of the riot will be take by the Centre,” he said at a function here, when asked if the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would take credible steps to bring relief to the victims of the communal riots in the district.

Tewari, however, reacted strongly when his comments were sought on a recent remark by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi that Gandhi’s visit to the strife-torn district was “secular tourism”.

“It is reflection on and example of the narrow mindset of the BJP if it has described Gandhi’s visit to Muzzaffarnagar as secular tourism. He visited the place to listen to the ordeals of the victims. Whatever happened in Muzzaffarnagar was unfortunate. We are not like the BJP which believes in maintaining and highlighting communal tensions,” the Union Minister said. Congress had always been “sensitive” towards “such situations” and did not want to sharpen the communal divide unlike the principal opposition party, he added.

Naqvi had said :”This is secular tourism over communal riots. Those dead will not come back by this tourism.”

Responding to questions on Congress poll prospects, Tewari suggested that the recent drubbing suffered by the party in four Assembly elections should not be a demoralising factor. “To some extent people seemed to be overawed by the results of the last round of assembly elections.

Yes, for us as a party, maybe as a government, they have been disappointing. But if you look at them in perspective, out of 29 states which went to the polls in the last five years, the Congress won twelve. The BJP and its allies won nine," he said. So far as the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were concerned, the Congress was “more than ready” to go the people on the strength of its achievements, the Minister said.

The Right to Information Act had been “uniquely empowering” while mobile telephony had changed lives, he said listing the achievements of the two consecutive terms of the UPA government.

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