Gujarat Assembly Polls: Narendra Modi lashes out at Rahul Gandhi over Somnath visit, 'Gabbar Singh Tax' barb

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed four rallies in the poll-bound Gujarat on Wednesday where he plans to address Patidar interests and give the BJP campaign a big push.

Continuing his high decibel campaign, Modi attacked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for calling GST 'Gabbar Singh Tax' and said those who looted the country could only think of dacoits.

In a stinging rebuttal to Gandhi's repeated criticism of the Goods and Services Tax, a key economic reform of the NDA government, Modi said a recently emerged "economist" was propagating a "grand stupid thought" by suggesting that GST rate be capped at 18 per cent.

Modi was on a campaign spree ahead of the first phase elections on 9 December, covering Morbi and Prachi villages near Somnath, Palitana in Bhavnagar and Navsari in Surat city of south Gujarat. The Patidar community in Morbi region has been pressing the government for reservation in government jobs and colleges for over two years.

Addressing a huge rally in Morbi town in the region, which goes to polls in the first phase on 9 December, Modi accused the Congress of taking credit for minor schemes, like providing hand-pumps, and stated that the BJP rule brought in major works such as the Narmada project. Appealing to the people to vote for the BJP in this Patidar stronghold, Modi said his party should not be voted out for 100 years.

 Gujarat Assembly Polls: Narendra Modi lashes out at Rahul Gandhi over Somnath visit, Gabbar Singh Tax barb

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat. AP.

Making a fresh bid for power in his home state, where the BJP has ruled for over two decades, Modi also listed various development works by the government on water conservation, agriculture and development of the Saurashtra region.

The prime minister went on to say that making cigarettes cheaper means bringing cancer in every home and asked which rich businessmen the Opposition leader sought to benefit by making liquor cheaper. Continuing the second leg of BJP’s Gujarat Vikas Rally in Gujarat, Modi said, "When Indira Ben came to Morbi, I remember there was a photo of her in the Chitralekha magazine with a handkerchief over her nose due to the foul smells, but for Jansangh/Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) the streets of Morbi are fragrant; its the fragrance of humanity."

Modi also invoked the 1979 Machu dam failure and went onto hail SAUNI and Narmada Dam project."When we came to power, we focussed on water. Congress asks what is our Gujarat model. We know what is Congress' development agenda — waterpump. Our development is SAUNI of Narmada. Often, Congress promised handpump just for sake of votes," Modi said.

In a stinging rebuttal to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's repeated criticism of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a key economic reform of the NDA government, Modi said a recently emerged "economist" was propagating a "grand stupid thought" by suggesting that GST rate be capped at 18 percent. Attacking Rahul for calling GST 'Gabbar Singh Tax', Modi said that those who looted the country could only think of dacoits.

Elaborating on the note ban, Modi said, "I want to ask Congress why is it so obsessed with the demonetisation drive. Is it because any of their members were affected by the note ban. You (Congress) looted the poor for seven decades. Even a year later, they are crying over the move." While concluding his speech, the prime minister said Gujaratis must be happy that one of them occupies top post in New Delhi.

In Prachi, Modi targeted the Congress again over its treatment of Sardar Patel and went onto say how the Opposition party had destroyed Gujarat with caste politics. He also said that Congress had kept the One Rank One Pension issue on the back burner for 40 years. Parliament is meeting soon and we are going to bring that issue on the floor of the House again, Modi said. We want to give our OBC communities their due, Modi added.

Modi has been extensively campaigning in the Patidar stronghold area of Amreli district which has severely distressed cotton and groundnut farmers.

According to this Firstpost editorial, in 2002, Modi set out on his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra in the backdrop of serious allegations of state-sponsored communal violence after the Godhra train attack where he played the same victim hood card, converting all criticism against him and his government as an insult to the Gujarati pride. And it worked.

At Bhavnagar's Palitana, Modi said Congress hates Modi, Gujarat, and development because they never had to sweat it out in life. "They hate development, they hate Gujarat, they hate Modi and now they hate sweat also. That is because they have never had to sweat it out in life and work hard. They are mocking everyone who works hard. This is their mindset. Such hatred for the poor is shocking," the prime minister said.

Modi will soon be addressing Navsari which is considered a BJP bastion. The party has held that seat since 1990. However, this time around, Rahul pulled in a considerable crowd at his Navsari rally.

Modi also accused the Congress of monopolising water tanker business in the parched region. While Modi was rallying in Morbi, Patidar leader Hardik Patel  addressed a rally 30 kilometres away. Rahul is also in Gujarat on Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to address multiple rallies.

Modi had on Monday pushed the BJP's campaign in his home state into a high gear by addressing four back-to-back rallies. Elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December. The votes will be counted on 18 December.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 30, 2017 07:12:53 IST

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