A day after serial blasts rocked Mumbai, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday ruled out complete eradication of terror attacks in the country but said the UPA government had been successful in controlling such violence to a large extent.
"It is very difficult to stop every single terror attack in the country. Terrorism is something that is impossible to stop all the time. But 99 per cent of terror attacks had been stopped due to strong vigilance and intelligence efforts," the Congress general secretary told the media on the second day of his visit to Orissa.
Rahul added that the UPA government had "promptly" responded to the return of terror attacks in India's financial capital. "The government's response was prompt. The Union home minister is leading the response. We are responding to the violence in a quite organized fashion," said Rahul, who was on a two-day tour of Orissa to urge youths to join the Congress.
The Congress leader, however, stressed on the need for initiating all-out efforts for total elimination of terrorism in the country. He said, "99 per cent of terror attacks have been stopped. We have improved by leaps and bounds. But we have to work and defeat 100 per cent of attacks. The idea is to fight terrorism at the local level." He also conveyed his condolences to all the families affected by Wednesday's explosions which has left 18 persons dead and 131 injured.
Reminded that there was no terror attack in the US after the 9/11 strike whereas India often faced the menace, Rahul said, "The US forces are facing terrorist attacks in Afghanistan."
The Gandhi scion also said the Prime Minister should not be brought under the Lokpal's purview. "If the Lokpal bill is imposed on the Prime Minister while he is in office, you open him up to constant engagement which will be unhealthy for the leadership of the country," he said. "The Prime Minister needs to lead the country and he needs to focus on running the country. I have my concerns over bringing him within the Lokpal's purview while holding office," he said, while describing it as his personal opinion. "The Prime Minister should come under the ambit of the bill the day he left office," he added.
Speaking about the troubled Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel project in Orissa, Rahul drew a parallel with Uttar Pradesh and suggested that the solution could lie in setting it up on non-agricultural land. "My issue on Posco is the same as my issue on Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh. What is happening in UP is the transfer of land from the poor to rich people. As far as infrastructure is concerned ... we do not have a problem. We have a problem with the compensation level," he said.
"Our main issue is what the people are going to get at the end. Are they going to be rehabilitated in the company?" Gandhi asked saying that the poor should not be pushed aside.
The Orissa government, he said, has to fulfill 30 conditions set by the Centre on the Posco project, he said.
"If Orissa government fulfills the 30 point programme and we feel the tribals are comfortable and happy with the outcome, that is good. If the tribals are pushed aside, we have a problem with that," Rahul said.
"What we are against is the pushing aside of poor people because they are poor."
The Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Orissa came under fire from the Congress leader for "not implementing" centrally-funded schemes and corruption. "It is not a problem of central funds which are abundant. The problem basically relates to corruption and non-implementation of centrally-funded schemes," he told reporters.
Rahul alleged that though Rs 35,000 crore was provided by the Centre to Orissa, the funds were not utilized properly as the BJD government failed to implement various schemes and programmes. Describing the rural job scheme MGNREGA as a dynamic and powerful tool for the uplift of the poor, Rahul claimed that the Orissa government had failed to properly implement it.
Speaking about the membership drive by the Youth Congress, he said youths were joining it in large numbers. Rahul also claimed that the Congress could return to power in the state. "I am confident that the Congress can come to power in Orissa," he said.