Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday made a frontal attack on Narendra Modi in Varanasi, where the latter is tipped to win, by asking him to change his poster where he promises to respect women.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi road show in supports for congress candidate Ajay Rai, in Varanasi. (HT Photo/Ajay Aggarwal)
"Say that you will respect women and stop sending the police to tail women or tap their phones in Gujarat. Don't give them strength, give them a little respect," Rahul reportedly said during his road show in the constituency, where Congress' Ajay Rai and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal are contesting against Modi.
Rahul dig was aimed at targeting Modi for allegedly ordering illegal spying on a woman architect in Gujarat. The Congress-led UPA, after raising the controversy, called snoopgate, to a high pitch during the polls, beat a retreat by telling the Supreme Court that it had no plan to institute an inquiry into the controversy.
He alleged Modi had insulted the people by saying the country has not achieved anything in the last 60 years.
"Modi had provided 45,000 acres of agriculture lands at the rate of Rs. 1 per square metre, while he demanded thousands of rupees for the same land from the Air Force," Gandhi said while taking a dig at "Modi's style of securing the nation".
Alleging that the Gujarat chief minister had favoured Adani Group by giving it Rs. 40,000 crore worth of land, the Congress leader said the state government had provided just Rs. 8,000 crore for education of children and health facilities.
"Modi's Gujarat model is focused on enhancing the fortunes of one person, but we (UPA Government) are giving attention to uplift of 70 crore people, who are between the Below Poverty Line and Middle Classes," he claimed.
Highlighting the achievements of the Congress led UPA government, Gandhi drew the crowd's attention towards, scholarships for the students and MNREGA.
On the last day of campaigning for the final phase of the mammoth poll exercise, Rahul canvassed in his rival's constituency like Modi had campaigned for Rahul's challenger Smriti Irani in Amethi.
Rahul Gandhi leads a roadshow in Varanasi. Congress is confident of victory in elections. (HT photo)
Starting his journey from a Muslim dominated Gol Gadda area, the Congress vice-president, flanked by party candidate Ajay Rai, waved to the cheering crowds while standing in his vehicle as his convoy travelled a distance of 12 kilometres in four hours.
Rahul's maiden show of strength in Varanasi on the last day of campaigning was held in retaliation to Modi addressing a rally in Amethi on May 5 on poll eve where BJP's Smriti Irani is taking on the Congress leader.
Rahul's roadshow covered longer routes than those by Modi and AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal, although in opposite direction.
He started from National Inter College and reached Lanka Gate after passing through busy areas like Maidagin, Beniabagh and Assi. He paid floral tributes at the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the BHU gate as the area was swarmed by Congress supporters.
He was helped by party men as he climbed a ladder to reach the pedestal. Modi and Kejriwal too had garlanded the statue during their previous road shows.
"We are fighting to win. We are confident of out victory," said Ghulam Nabi Azad who has been camping here. The family members of late shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan played shehnai during the roadshow. Earlier, the family had refused to become a proposer for Modi when he had filed nomination for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on April 24.
Watch: Rahul Gandhi begins roadshow in Varanasi
Rahul's payback roadshow came as campaign frenzy gripped Varanasi, which will go to polls on May 12 in the last lap of the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections.
A large posse of policemen surrounded Rahul's convoy as it moved with the flag-waving crowd in the streets of Varansi.
With the sun blazing down, Congress supporters, many of them wearing tricolour caps, shouted slogans.
Rahul's roadshow was allowed in Beniya Bagh, where Modi was refused permission by the Election Commission to hold rally due to security reasons, prompting an angry reaction from BJP.
"It is blot on the electoral process where a PM candidate has not been allowed to hold rally in his constituency. Why were security reasons cited for Modi and not for the other leaders who are campaigning there? "It is now clear that the permission was denied due to political reasons and not for security reasons," BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.
Kejriwal on Friday led a massive roadshow from Banaras Hindu University Gate in Lanka area to Town Hall in Maidagin area, while Modi had drove through with his motorcade from BHU to Sigra a day before.
Rai has also got support from Muslim strongman Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal, although the two leaders have a long history of rivalry and have long been known as sworn enemies.
Congress has been trying hard to woo minority community, where Kejriwal is said to have made strong inroads.
Rahul did not address public during the roadshow, although a rally was scheduled later today in nearby Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency. Modi also has as many as five rallies today in the nearby constituencies.
Raising the poll heat here, SP leader and UP chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also had one roadshow, while AAP leader Kumar Vishwas conducted one after Kejriwal's got cancelled.
Other Congress leaders present in roadshow included Madhusudan Mistry, Nagma, CP Joshi and Raj Babbar, as also Congress candidate from here Ajay Rai.
Congress supporters had begun assembling since early in the morning.
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Rahul Gandhi, taking the lead