The poll-bound state of Gujarat on Tuesday saw a high-pitched battle as Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP government in the state and the Centre stating that the saffron party had duped the people of the state by not fulfilling its promises and giving all the money to industrialists.
On a three-day tour of Gujarat, the Congress vice-president stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged business dealings of BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay, asking him if he was a "partner" in the "theft".
He said that the BJP had made tall promises at the time of election but scored a zero when it comes to deliverables. The Gandhi scion sought to play up issues like farmers' crisis, demonetisation, and lack of jobs in the prime minister's home state.
"How much money did you get in your homes out of the so-called Gujarat model of development?" Gandhi asked a cheering crowd in Vadodara. Gandhi also criticised the state government over the issue of high debt.
"The debt of Gujarat has reached Rs 2 lakh crore. Despite taking so much debt for development works, there has been no improvement in the condition of farmers and the poor," Gandhi said.
The Congress leader began day two of his 'Navsarjan Yatra' in central Gujarat region by addressing students in Vadodara. He made a stop at Padra village in Vadodara after which he interacted with Anganwadi workers and Khadi India showroom workers at Karjan.
Gandhi also visited Dabhoi and then interacted with people displaced due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Pansoli. Gandhi also decided to participate in the traditional Timli dance with the locals in Chota Udaipur, his last stop for the day.
— Supriya Bhardwaj (@Supriya23bh) October 10, 2017
'Rename Beti Bachao Beti Padhao to Amit Shah ke bete ko bachao'
The Congress vice-president, who was on the second leg of his campaign tour in the poll-bound home state of Modi, frequently raked up the issue of Jay's business dealings to target the prime minister as well as Shah at about 10 small and big public meetings that he addressed throughout the day.
He also criticised Union ministers and BJP leaders who defended the BJP chief's son, saying that they should change the name of the government's flagship scheme for the girl child —"Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" — to "Amit Shah ke bete ko bachao (save Amit Shah's son)".
"A theft has taken place in front of the eyes of the chowkidar (watchman), but you are silent. The question is are you a watchman or a partner?" Gandhi questioned, attacking Modi over a report published in news portal The Wire where it claimed that a firm owned by Jay saw a huge rise in turnover after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.
Gandhi's comments were a mockery of Modi's comments made at his public meetings during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign. Modi used to say that he did not want to become the prime
minister but a 'chowkidar' of people's wealth.
"The company was formed six to seven years ago. Modiji came (to power in 2014) and launched 'Start up India', 'Make in India'. He then introduced demonetisation and GST. This destroyed small businesses and farmers," Gandhi told the gathering as he continued his assault on Modi and Shah for the second day running.
"From this fire, one company comes up. It was nothing in 2014, but in a few months the company became so big that its worth (turnover) rose from mere Rs 50,000 to Rs 80 crore," he said.
"Who gave (the) loan to it?" Gandhi asked and then himself replied, "It was a central government department under minister Piyush Goyalji." The company closed down in 2016, the 47-year-old Congress leader said.
He also wanted to know why has the prime minister not spoken on the issue so far.
Jay has filed a criminal defamation suit against the web portal over the report in a court in Ahmedabad. The Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter and ouster of Shah as the BJP chief.
Rahul's comment on RSS backfires
Congress vice-president Gandhi, at a rally, seemed to suggest that the RSS, the ideological parent of BJP, discriminates against women but his poser whether any woman is ever seen in its shakas (assembly) wearing shorts sparked condemnation by BJP.
"Their organisation is RSS. How many women are there in RSS...have you ever seen any woman in 'shakhas' wearing shorts? I have never seen," Gandhi said in a sarcastic tone, adding, "In Congress, you will see women at every level in the organisation."
Khakhi shorts were a trademark of RSS volunteers which they used to wear during their drills in the past before they changed to full pants over a year back.
Union minister and senior BJP leader Smriti Irani slammed Gandhi's remark as "indecent".
"If Rahulji believes that wearing shorts in India is the sign of empowerment, as a woman I want to contradict it," Irani told reporters in Amethi, the home turf of the Gandhi family in Uttar Pradesh.
"Today, an indecent comment has been made on our sisters connected with the Sangh, the Rashtriya Sevika Sangh or the sisters, wives, and sisters-in-law of ordinary Sangh workers," Irani added.
Congress vice-president vows to hear people's mann ki baat
Taking a dig at the prime minister's monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat, Gandhi said that the Congress didn't believe in ranting its own praise. It would rather prefer to hear people's concern. He said: "Hum apne mann ki baat karenge nahi, apke mann ki baat sunenge (We won't lecture you about what we think, we would rather listen to you)."
"We will bring policies after understanding your needs. We will listen to you and not impose our 'mann ki baat'," Gandhi reiterated at another meeting.
Gandhi said that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government's record in generating employment was far better than that of the Modi government.
The Congress leader also said there should be a single-minded focus on job creation. "If our government comes to power, we will do this," he said.
Gandhi also said that people should be allowed to express themselves and even unpleasant criticism should be tolerated. "I do not believe in suppressing anyone," he said.
The Congress vice-president also slammed the Modi government over the manner in which the Goods and Services Tax was rolled out on 1 July, saying it had "blown the economy apart".
Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.
Updated Date: Oct 11, 2017 10:08:34 IST