Indore: In poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi began his day Monday by offering prayers at Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar temple, addressed two election rallies and signed it off with a road-show in Indore amid chants of "Har Har Mahadev".
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retorted, saying Gandhi was trying to build his image as that of a "Shiv bhakt" with his temple visits, the Congress chief hit out at the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan regime in Madhya Pradesh, alleging failures on several fronts, including jobs and corruption. Earlier in the day, Gandhi addressed public meetings at Ujjain and Jhabua.
The Congress had in 2017 said that Gandhi was an ardent "Shiv bhakt". In August, he had undertaken the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. Clad in white kurta-pyjama, Gandhi waved at the people from an open-top vehicle and shook hands with some of them during the three-kilometre journey from the Bada Ganpati intersection in the state's commercial capital to the historic Rajwada.
His vehicle passed through dense commercial areas like the Tory Corner, Lohar Patti and Jawahar Marg, before reaching its destination. He was greeted with the chants of "Har Har Mahadev" (hail Lord Shiva) by the party workers at many places. Addressing a corner meeting from his vehicle at Rajwada, Gandhi attacked the BJP-led central government over the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which he often dubs as the "Gabbar Singh Tax".
"Did the shopkeepers of Indore benefit from the Gabbar Singh Tax? This tax regime has added to the difficulties of small traders," the Congress chief said. The GST would be implemented in a "correct manner" if the Congress was elected to power after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said, adding that his party would bring in "a corruption-free system of one-tax, lower-tax".
Gandhi accused the Chouhan government of "failing" to provide employment to the youth in the state and "ruining" the traditional textile industry of Indore. He alleged that the Centre waived the debts of crores of rupees of 15 rich people in the country, "but it does not want to waive the debts of farmers, labourers and small shopkeepers". The Congress chief was accompanied by the party's state unit chief, Kamal Nath, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who heads its state campaign committee.
Indore is considered a bastion of the ruling BJP. In the 2013 state Assembly polls, the saffron party had won all the five seats here. Earlier in the day, Gandhi performed "puja" at the ancient Mahakaleshwar temple of Lord Shiva in Ujjain, located 62 kilometres from here. Mahakaleshwar is one of the 12 "jyotirlingas" (special shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva) in the country.
Wearing a cream-coloured "shola" (dhoti), the Congress chief entered the sanctum sanctorum, along with Nath and Scindia. It was Gandhi's second visit to the shrine. His first visit was in 2010.
BJP president Amit Shah had visited the temple on July 14. He had then flagged off Chouhan's "Jan Ashirwad Yatra".
Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at Raipur in Chhattisgarh that Gandhi was trying to build his image as a "Shiv bhakt" with his temple visits Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress is in the opposition since 2003, will go to the polls on 28 November and the results will be announced on 11 December.
During his two-day tour that began Monday, Gandhi will visit the politically crucial Malwa-Nimar region, which accounts for 66 of the 230 Assembly seats in the state. In the 2013 polls, the BJP had won 56 seats in the region and the Congress had managed to bag just nine, while one seat had gone to an Independent candidate. During his tour, Gandhi is scheduled to address rallies in Jhabua, Indore, Dhar, Khargone and Mhow.
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Updated Date: Oct 30, 2018 11:23:33 IST