Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Amethi and Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli on Saturday. Pictures by Naeem Ansari and PTI
April 26: May God save the country from the “Modi model” of governance, Sonia Gandhi said today, launching a forceful attack on the BJP, which she described as a party that “tells and sells lies”.
“The BJP’s chief campaigner is selling the Narendra Modi model in the name of Gujarat. What is happening in Gujarat under this model?” the Congress president asked at a rally in Barnala, Punjab. “Every second five-year-old child in Gujarat is malnourished and those who get Rs 11 a day are not considered to be below poverty line in the Modi model,” she said.
In Gujarat, 45,000 acres have been given to one businessman at a cheap rate while many villagers still don’t get drinking water, Sonia added. “May God please save this country from this model,” she said.
She kept up the attack while addressing voters in Rae Bareli, her constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
“The BJP is a power-hungry party. It is ready to do anything for grabbing power. They tell and sell lies,” she said. “Their intentions have come to the fore during their campaigning. They did not feel shame in expressing their zalil vichar (disgraceful views). Such views are their identity,” Sonia said.
It is unclear if she was referring to comments televangelist Ramdev had made about Rahul Gandhi’s visits to Dalit homes or to the BJP campaign as a whole.
In Gujarat, Rahul echoed his mother. “Modi gave Rs 45,000 crore worth of land to Adani, which is five times more money than Gujarat’s annual budget for health and education…. This is not Gujarat model, this is Adani model of development,” the Congress vice-president said. “Precious land of farmers, 45,000 acres, was gifted to Adani at the price of a toffee,” Rahul alleged.
The real “Gujarat model” is that of lakhs of women who built Amul, the enterprising Gujaratis who went empty-handed to the US and now own several hotels, he said. It is also represented by the hard-working diamond workers and the textile mill owners who built their empires with hard work, the Congress leader said.
Gujarat gave leaders like Mahatma Gandhi who spent his whole life in search of truth. Modi, on the other hand, cannot sleep if he does not tell five to six lies in a day, Rahul said.
Modi hit back, saying: “There is a competition of telling lies between them. If mother tells one lie, the son tells two. If the son tells two, the mother tells three…. If this mother-son duo do not mention my name, they cannot digest their food.” He also warned Rahul to “keep things within limits”.
Campaigning for brother Rahul in Amethi, Priyanka left it to the voters to tell the truth from the lies. Choosing not to comment on Modi, she said: “You know all that. You know what is a lie and what is the truth. For us you are the judge.”
Instead, she focused on the work Rahul has done in his constituency.
“It is easy to criticise anyone. My father Rajiv Gandhi, who launched the industrialisation programme here and many futuristic development projects for the entire country, had been as much a target for Opposition attack as my brother today. You hear many saying today he (Rahul) has done nothing for his constituency, which is not true,” Priyanka said.
Modi had asked on April 20: “If he can’t handle Amethi, how can he handle the country?”
Priyanka recalled how she used to come to Amethi as a child with Rajiv Gandhi. “He was my father. He was a good man with a tender heart….” she said, voice choking.
“We know his efforts in revolutionising telecom and IT sector. But some Opposition used to ridicule my father for this. The same Opposition is vilifying my brother Rahul today because like my father, he is thinking long-term in launching development programmes.”
In neighbouring Rae Bareli, Sonia said: “The people know that the party that has always stood for them is the Congress. The relation of love and trust is made when you become a real wellwisher of the people. Yehi meri rajneetik zindagi ki jamapoonji hai (This is my political life’s earnings).”
She made an emotional pitch: “The last elections were fought by you all and this election too is yours. You all should ensure that maximum number of votes are cast in favour of the Congress.”