Bhopal: Holding a 15-kilometre roadshow in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday called demonetisation the "biggest scam" of the Narendra Modi government to convert black money into white.
Rahul held the four-hour-long roadshow after performing a puja and taking blessings from 11 priests.
Travelling in a bus, the 48-year-old leader criss-crossed several areas of Bhopal, passing through the roads that were decorated and had Congress banners, like the ones describing him as a 'Shiv bhakt' (a devotee of Lord Shiva).
The roadshow was the virtual launch of the Congress campaign for the Assembly polls slated for later this year, in which his party has the tough task of dislodging the BJP, which has been ruling Madhya Pradesh for the past 15 years.
Thousands of Congress workers and local residents flanked the roads and jostled to catch a glimpse of Rahul, who was accompanied by senior party leaders, including Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath and state party's campaign panel chairperson Jyotiraditya Scindia.
En route, he had a brief halt to have tea and samosa at a roadside stall near Sadar Manzil. He also posed for a selfie with the tea stall owner and his staff, Congress MLA from Indore Jitu Patwari said.
After the roadshow, Gandhi addressed a public meeting, during which he attacked the Modi government over demonetisation, GST, the Rafale fighter jet deal and farm loan waivers.
"Demonetisation was the biggest scam that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has undertaken in four years, which the Congress had not done in the last 70 years," the Congress leader said at the BHEL Dusshera Maidan.
Modi had, on 8 November, 2016, announced demonetisation, under which the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes existing then were scrapped with immediate effect.
"The scam was aimed at taking out money from the small traders to put into the pockets of 15 richest persons of the country," Rahul alleged.
He asked the gathering, "Have you seen people like Vijay Mallya or Anil Ambani standing in queues after demonetisation? Only the honest people of the country stood in the queues."
Rahul claimed that the BJP-led government has waived loans worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore which was the NPA of 15 big industries. He questioned why the loans of farmers, who "have borrowed just Rs 5,000", could not be waived.
"Those who took loans in lakhs and crores were called as 'Non-Performing Assets', but when a farmer fails to pay Rs 5,000 loan, you call him a defaulter," Rahul said.
"When the Congress comes to power in the country, it will waive all farmers' loans. The Congress had already done so by waiving Rs 70,000 crore loans taken by peasants earlier," he said.
Describing the Goods and Services Tax as the 'Gabbar Singh Tax', Rahul alleged that it, too, was an attempt to take out money from the small traders for putting into the pocket of 15 richest persons of India.
Referring to the Rafale fighter jet deal, the Congress president claimed that the prime minister had failed to see in his (Rahul's) eye when he "questioned" him in the Lok Sabha on the issue.
"When I was raising the Rafale deal issue in Parliament, I asked Modiji why his government purchased these planes for Rs 1,600 crore instead of Rs 700 crore," Rahul said. "I was looking into Modiji's eyes. But he was looking right, left, up and down and never established an eye contact on the issue."
He also said that if the Congress comes to power, it will ensure that mobile phones and other items will be manufactured in the state under the 'Made-in-Madhya Pradesh' and 'Made- in-Bhopal' tags to generate jobs for the youth.
Before hopping on to a bus for the roadshow, Rahul performed a puja and took blessings from 11 Hindu priests amid chanting of mantras.
His roadshow, after passing through the main streets of Bhopal, concluded at the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd's Dussehra Maidan around 5 pm.
A large number of security personnel were deployed along the route of Rahul's roadshow. Besides the regular police force, an additional 1,500 policemen manned the streets of Bhopal, police officials said.
Security personnel were seen having a tough time in ensuring a smooth passage for Rahul's vehicle amid the crowded roads.
Earlier, Rahul was received at the airport by Nath and Scindia, among others. As he stepped out of the airport, scores of Congress workers holding the party flag chanted "Rahul Gandhi zindabad".
The Congress president recently returned from a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. As part of the pilgrimage, devotees undertake an arduous journey to Mount Kailash, which is considered the abode of Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology.
Updated Date: Sep 17, 2018 20:41 PM