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Rahul Gandhi tours poll-bound Gujarat: Congress VP attacks BJP over GST, farm policies, promises freebies if voted to power

Jamnagar/Dwarka: Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over note ban, GST, farm policies and 'Gujarat model' of development, Rahul Gandhi on Monday voiced confidence about winning the upcoming Assembly elections, claiming there is a strong undercurrent in favour of Congress in Gujarat.

Talking to journalists on arrival in Jamnagar for a road show on the first day of his three-day tour of Gujarat, Gandhi said people are regretting having voted for the BJP.

 Rahul Gandhi tours poll-bound Gujarat: Congress VP attacks BJP over GST, farm policies, promises freebies if voted to power

Rahul Gandhi addressing a rally in Dwarka. Darshan Desai/Firstpost

"There is a strong undercurrent in favour of Congress in Gujarat. People want change and Congress will definitely come to power this time. People of Gujarat are unhappy with the ruling party as they feel cheated after giving their votes to the BJP," said Gandhi, adding that Congress will help Gujarat develop.

The Congress has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades.

The 47-year-old Congress leader, who started the day by offering prayers at the famous Dwarkadhish Temple in Dwarka, interacted with people during his trip from the holy city to Jamnagar, passing through Saurashtra region.

In his short speeches at various places, Gandhi assailed Modi over demonetisation and a host of other issues.

He highlighted the issue of unemployment under the BJP dispensation and promised to solve the problems faced by Gujarat's farmers if his party is voted to power in the state.

Travelling in a especially-designed bus, he interacted with villagers at many places.

From Dwarka, Gandhi headed to Hanjrapar, where he was accorded a traditional welcome by villagers. He even rode a bullock cart and interacted with villagers.

Gandhi came down heavily on Gujarat's BJP government on the issue of privatisation.

"Privatisation is happening in every sector under this government, be it education or health sector. Due to this policy of the BJP government, poor people are not getting education or health services," Gandhi said.

He promised free medicines and medical treatment if the Congress is voted to power in Gujarat.

Accusing the BJP government of being "anti-farmer", Gandhi demanded that the government announce complete farm loan waiver in Gujarat.

The bullock cart Rahul Gandhi later rode on. Darshan Desai/Firstpost

The bullock cart Rahul Gandhi later rode on. Darshan Desai/Firstpost

"If the government can waive loans given to businessmen, why not farmers? The Indian government gave away Rs 1.30 lakh crore to 15 large business houses while Rs 7 lakh crore in loans were not returned to banks. They (businessmen) will get all the benefits, while you (farmers) will be jailed for not repaying loans," said Gandhi.

Before visiting Hanjrapar, Gandhi made several halts along the route, including at Bhatia village. In his address there, Gandhi slammed the Modi government for "failing" to address basic problems of people.

Around 20,000 youths pass out of educational institutes every day but the Central government manages to give employment to only 400, he claimed.

"You go to any corner of this country and ask farmers whether they get proper price for their produce. All of them will promptly say, no," Gandhi said.

"Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared demonetisation without consulting anyone. This was a massive blow to our economy.

"Farmers were badly hit as they do not do transaction through phone or debit card. They use cash to buy seeds or pay farm labourers," said Gandhi.

He claimed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has broken the back of small traders and shopkeepers.

Gandhi said though the Congress told the government to have a single tax rate under the GST, it introduced five slabs. He claimed lakhs of businesses have shut down due to the GST.

The poor have no place in the 'Gujarat model' of development which has benefited only a handful of businessmen, the Congress leader said.

"Business houses get everything, be it water, land or electricity. But the poor are always neglected. This is the difference between them (the BJP) and us (the Congress). I promise our government will be of the poor, farmers and youth," he said.

After Bhatia, Gandhi reached Nandana village, where he addressed school children.

"Our country has made huge progress in the last 70 years. When we got independence, we didn't have many good schools, big universities or companies. Whatever exists today is because of the hard work of your parents as well as grandparents," he said.

On Tuesday, Gandhi will visit towns such as Dhrol and Tankara by road before reaching Rajkot.

Notably, Gandhi was greeted by Hardik Patel, leader of the Patel quota agitation, on his Gujarat visit. "A warm welcome to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat," Patel tweeted in Hindi on Monday morning.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Sep 25, 2017 22:00:06 IST

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