Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday juxtaposed Gandhian thought with Narendra Modi’s governance model to show it as elitist, exclusive and antithetical to the Mahatma’s values.
Addressing a rally in the town that’s home to the Tata Nano factory on the day the first phase of electioneering in Gujarat drew to a close, Rahul tore into the Gujarat chief minister without once naming the BJP mascot.
“Gandhi was a man of tolerance. He heard even the British whom he fought. But you have no voice in present day Gujarat,” he said amid shouts of approval.
“You're told only one man is taking Gujarat forward-people do nothing. This is crass marketing (of a persona),” he charged.
“He (Modi) is mad,” screamed a clutch of youth. Rahul restrained them: “Don't use such language. It isn't civil.” Rahul built the contrast by dwelling on the UPA's schemes for the aam aadmi. “Who gave you the mobile phone with which you are taking my pictures?” he asked a man perched on the barricade. “Rajiv Gandhi,” he replied.
“People told Rajivji that nobody listens to them. So he gave you the phone. He was helped in that by a Gujarati, Sam Pitroda,” he said.
Rahul mocked the Modi cult, comparing him with a man who'd look at another person's watch and tell him the time. In the same vein he credited Gujarat's women with the white revolution.
“You work and he (Modi) steals the credit," he said, asking whether people got Nano cars in return for the Rs. 60,000 of public money going into the making of every car. “Hamey Nano nahin chahiye. Hum Rs. 60,000 wapas lenge, (We don't want the Nano. Return our Rs. 60,000,”) responded the audience.
The Congress general secretary engaged with his audience, drawing them out on issues touching their lives. A communicator more than an orator-that's what he was for the 20-odd minutes that he spoke.
He broke the ice with the gathering with a story he'd heard from Rajiv Gandhi about Pandit Nehru's initiation into the freedom struggle. Motilal Nehru was already worried about the course his son's life would take under Gandhi's influence. Amid that came Panditji's arrest by the British.
Motilal's views changed for good when on a sleepless night, he passed by Gandhi's quarters at Anand Bhawan, the Nehru residence in Allahabad. He found the Mahatma sprawled on the floor in the punishing winter.
“Gandhiji told Motilalji: how could he sleep on a bed while Nehru spent wintry nights on the floor in jail,” said Rahul.
“That's the history of Gujarat and Gandhi who epitomised compassion. Kal jo election hain woh bhi Gandhi ke dein hain.”