Rahul Gandhi seems to connect with the people on economic matters during his three-day yatra of poll-bound Gujarat. Will the Congress be able to give the BJP a tough fight in a state it has been ruling for the last 15 years and is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project?
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday held out an assurance that if voted to power in Gujarat and subsequently in the country his party would provide a government for the poor, the farmers and small-scale industry, unlike the present Narendra Modi regime.
Continuing his three-day election campaign in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region on the second day, Rahul Gandhi said the “much-touted Gujarat model is about the government working for the interests of a handful of corporates at the cost of the farmers, the poor and the small businesses.”
He was addressing a public gathering on the outskirts of Tankara town in Morbi district attended by around 20,000 people, who had waited some two hours under a scorching sun.
“The true Gujarat model is the Sardar Patel model, the Amul model which the women of Gujarat gave to create a white revolution, not a single individual. It is the kisan welfare model and it is the model of small and medium scale businessmen,” the Congress leader said.
It was this “old model” which had been completely dismantled now, Gandhi added.
“The Congress party had Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. They had agreement over issues but had different thought processes. The Congress pooled all the thoughts together,” the Gandhi scion said.
“The Congress party has joined the people and various schools of thought. This is how it works. The party listens to the people and tries to understand their issues, instead of imposing on the country what it thinks is right,” he continued.
“The BJP does not listen to people, it has already decided what is right and what is wrong on its own without consulting the people. They think they have all the knowledge. They have assumed the role of a loudspeaker and go on dishing out their self-righteousness,” Gandhi asserted.
“They give good bhashan (lectures and speeches), do good marketing, but little work,” he said.
Trying to strike up a conversation with the crowd that heard him in rapt attention, the Congress Vice President said, “Come on, I will ask you a few questions. Do you want demonetisation?” The people responded, almost in unison, “Nahi, nahi (no, no)”. The response was similar when asked about the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“See, you don’t want it. But nobody came to ask you. The Congress party does,” he said.
Building on this, Gandhi went on to taunt the BJP leadership for taking “unilateral decisions without consultations and homework”.
He said, “Achanak, Narendra Modi-ji ko ek din 500-1,000 ki note achhi nahi lag rahi thi, toh unhone hanste huye issey rad kar di. Bas yeh note rad kar di, ha, ha, ha. Hanste hanste ye kar diya. (Suddenly one day, Narendra Modi didn’t like the look of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and he cheerfully disbanded them),” evoking giggles.
Asserting that a Congress government would have never taken a decision like this, Gandhi reminded the people how demonetisation had sounded the “death knell of the famous ceramics industry” of the region.
He said lakhs of farmers, labourers and small shopkeepers who run their economy on cash were pushed into a deep crisis by one single decision of an individual.
“Narendra Modi-ji did not ask anyone before imposing demonetisation on the country. The RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan was not asked, the Finance Minister was not consulted, the Chief Economic Adviser of the government was not informed,” the Congress Vice-President added.
“What was the net result? Did the black money come back? On the contrary, the truth is that demonetisation was used to convert huge swathes of black money into white money,” he said.
On the second day of his Navsarjan Yatra in Saurashtra region, Rahul Gandhi said this “Modi Model” has to be changed.
Gandhi took potshots at Narendra Modi and said a government run by “remote control” will not work in the state. “If we want to change Gujarat, we have to make a government of Gujarat. Government by remote control will not work,” he said.
Gandhi said if Congress is voted to power, it will generate employment, help farmers and waive off loans.
“People who do not have houses, we will provide them houses. It will be a government of the poor and the weak. We have to bring it back on the rails,” Gandhi said.
The Congress leader said the story of Gujarat has been that of the benefit of a few individuals.
“Work is done by the farmer, small trader, labourer, youth and benefits are reaped by 5-10 industrialists. This is the story of Gujarat, Modiji’s model. We have to change this,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi began the second day of his visit to Gujarat on Tuesday by meeting trading community representatives in Jamnagar. They shared their concerns with him.
Gandhi, who also addressed a gathering in Dhrol in Jamnagar, hit out at Modi over police firing during the Patidar agitation.
“Patidars had to face bullets under Modi government. But Congress wants to move forward with love and in the spirit of brotherhood,” he said.
Gandhi also tweeted his remarks.
“I want to tell the Patidar community that people of BJP were responsible for firing on you. This is not the Congress way. We work with affection and brotherhood.”
“You cannot run Gujarat through remote control. Gujarat will be run by its farmers, labourers and small traders,” he said.
Gandhi had on Monday started his party’s campaign for the assembly election later this year with a visit to Dwarkadhish temple in Dwarka.
During his three-day visit to Gujarat, Gandhi is meeting people in villages across Saurashtra region which had witnessed agitation by the Patidar community for quotas in jobs and education. (IANS)