| Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi with party candidate Jyoti Kumari at an election rally in Gopalganj on Thursday. (PTI) |
Rahul Gandhi on Thursday mocked the Gujarat model of governance and sharpened the snoopgate shrapnel to counter Narendra Modi, a day after the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate deflected the cheap politics salvo at his opponents.
Addressing a public meeting in support of the Congress candidate from Gopalganj, Jyoti Kumari, Rahul said: “The Gujarat model means giving a company Rs 40,000 crore.” He went on asking the 15,000-strong responsive crowd: “Is giving hundreds of acres of land at the rate of Re 1 per sqm to Adani Gujarat model? Is providing electricity worth Rs 26,000 crore to one businessman Gujarat model? Is giving land worth Rs 10,000 crore to a businessman like offering pakoras on a platter Gujarat model? Bhaiya (Brothers)! Is making tall but hollow claims through TV and posters Gujarat model? Is only blaming others Gujarat model?”
Referring to the snoopgate episode, Rahul alleged that the women in Gujarat were terrified of police.
“Don’t double speak, Modiji. People know what treatment is meted out to women in Gujarat,” he said.
Lambasting Modi’s claim to empower women, Rahul said: “Modiji, women have been ruling the country, women are already strong. Modiji, instead of saying you would empower women, say that you would respect women. Rest will fall in place automatically.”
Rahul also rebutted Modi’s repeated claims that nothing had been done in the country by the Congress in 67 years. “What about the sacrifices of our ancestors, sacrifices of our soldiers, farmers and labourers? Modiji asks people to make him the chowkidar (guard) and he would solve all the problems. I say that crores of Indians have become chowkidars of the country. Power does not rest in one person but in the people of India,” he said.
Sharing the dais with RJD leaders — former MLA Reyazul Haque Raju, Aditya Pandey and former MLA Kiran Rai — in Gopalganj, 200km northwest from Patna, as his mother Sonia Gandhi did in a rally in the state on Monday, Rahul tried to strike a local connect with the audience by raising issues like floods and problems of sugarcane growers. He claimed that the UPA cared to help the flood-hit Gopalganj people. He reminded the audience that the UPA government had sent Rs 1,100 crore to Bihar to combat flood but the state government failed to take any action.
“I know the sugarcane-growers did not get their payment despite the UPA government sending Rs 6,000 crore. It’s another failure of the state government,” he said in a veiled attack on chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Seeking support for Jyoti, the Congress’s Gopalganj candidate, Rahul claimed that she would ensure development of the region.
He also promised to look into the demand for an airport in Gopalganj.
In his parting shot, Rahul warned the people that this election was very crucial for the country. He said it was being fought between two forces — one divisive and communal and the other stands for secularism and integrity. “People have to choose between the two,” he said.
l Gopalganj votes on May 12