KOHIMA: Speaking on the Indo-Naga peace process at a rally in Kohima on Thursday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, unlike Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, he did not want to promise something that he could not fulfill.
"I am not like your chief minister. I do not like to make promises in the air," he added.
Rahul came to Kohima to campaign for K V Pusa, Congress's candidate for Nagaland's lone Lok Sabha seat.
Taking a potshot at Rio for having claimed that he would bring about a solution to the Naga political problem within three months during the 2003 assembly election in the state, Rahul said, "Unlike your CM, I cannot promise to bring about a political settlement within three months after returning to power."
He added, "The UPA government has taken a bold decision by inviting NSCN for talks."
However, Rahul also added, "I promise that I will do all that I can to bring about an early resolution of this problem. I will help the state of Nagaland, but I cannot promise to solve the problem in exactly three months."
"I am trying to bring peace and harmony to the state," Rahul said to a roaring crowd who clapped energetically after every statement he made.
Addressing the problem of communication in the region, Rahul said connectivity was one of the biggest problems the state faced time and again. If the Congress-led UPA returned to power, the government at the Centre would focus on improving roads and infrastructure development for better rail and air connectivity, he said.
The party was committed to creating 100 million jobs in the country in the next five years, Rahul added.
He said Nagaland was one of the few states in India that was actually moving backwards.
"Normally, a car has four gears - first, second, third and fourth gear. But the Nagaland government has put the state into reverse gear. This is definitely not good for the people of Nagaland," he added.
Instead of making empty promises, the CM should ensure that Nagaland progressed at top speed, he said, adding that the growth rate of Nagaland had slumped from 8.3 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
Rahul told the gathering that in the last 17 months, the Centre had paid Rs 300 crore for building roads in Nagaland, but not a single road had been constructed in the state till date.
"Now the DAN government wants to revise the estimated rate by two-and-half times, thereby not only driving the car in the reverse gear but also failing to build a road in the first place," he pointed out.
On his first visit to the state, Rahul said he was happy to have come to Nagaland and seen its beautiful people. The attire they wear signified the glorious aspects of Naga history, he said, adding that he respected the culture and tradition of the Nagas.
"To make our country really great, we first need to respect each other's culture and I believe in your history and culture," Rahul added.
He mentioned that some Naga students, who had met him in Delhi, had told him that 70,000 youths were unemployed in Nagaland.
He then said Nido Tania was killed by a small group of people who did not understand and respect the culture of the northeast and stated that the ideology of Congress was to spread love, peace and brotherhood. He added that people from the northeast had the right to feel safe and comfortable whenever they went. Nagas and other northeasterners should not feel alienated and should be able to live fearlessly in any part of the country, Rahul added.
He also announced that he would be the "special representative" of the region's people in Delhi and asked them to contact him anytime as his door would always be kept open for them.