Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi continued with his tirade on the secularism plank against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as he held two rallies in Hiamchal Pradesh on Thursday. The hill state has four Lok Sabha seats that go to polls on May 7.
In Solan, part of the Shimla segment where Congress’ Mohan Lal Brakta is challenging BJP’s sitting MP Virender Kashyap, Rahul accused the BJP leadership of dividing the country along caste and religion “by building up an atmosphere of anger”. He cautioned the electorate about “the nefarious design of certain forces, solely aimed at capturing power by deceiving the people”.
Modi represents RSS ideology: Rahul Gandhi
At Bilaspur, which falls in the high-profile Hamirpur constituency where BJP’s sitting MP is former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur, Rahul sought to strike a chord with women, accusing the BJP of having a “dual face”: “In its posters, the BJP makes tall claims of women empowerment, while, in their literature that I have read, RSS founder MS Golwarkar has said ‘the country has committed a biggest mistake by giving voting right to the women’.”
The Congress candidate is Rajinder Rana, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Kargil martyr Captain Vikram Batra’s mother, Kamal Kanta Batra, from this segment.
He said it was only the Congress that had “always shouldered the responsibility of transforming the economic condition of the common man”, and listed out the food security act and the employment guarantee scheme, besides one-rank-one-pension for defence personnel.
Reacting to Modi’s remarks about Congress being soft on terrorism, he recalled that it was the BJP-led NDA government that had released the Kandahar hijackers “who were later found to be behind attacks on Parliament and in Mumbai”. He also referred to a statement by US President Barack Obama in which he listed India and China among powerful countries of the world, “which shows how India has taken numerous strides in development since Independence”.
Picking up the thread from his recent ‘development model’ rhetoric, he termed the election as a fight of ideologies, “While the Congress always worked to put the nation on the path of development by ensuring active participation of the common man, the BJP is siding only with big business houses.” Without expressly naming BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, Rahul said that “unlike other arrogant politicians”, he always used the word ‘we’ in his speeches so as to give the credit to the entire Congress.
He then reiterated that Gujarat CM Modi had “leased out 45,000 acres of government land to the Adani Group at just `1 per square metre” and “also supplied power worth `26,000 crores to another business house”. “Till date, the Gujarat government has not appointed a lokayukta that could eliminate corruption… Once the appointments are made, he (Modi) will be exposed.” He said the situation in Gujarat is no different “from what the people in Himachal saw during BJP’s regime”.
Lauding the efforts of CM Virbhadra Singh, Rahul said the Congress had helped in speedy industrialisation and also established a central university, an IIT and other institutions.
Virbhadra in his speech castigated the BJP for “spreading canards” and listed the achievements of his government. Union minister Anand Sharma and state Congress president Sukhwinder Sukhu also spoke, while party candidate Brakta, union minister Rajeev Shukla and HP leaders Vidya Stokes, DR Shandil, Rahul Singh Thakur, Arvind Gupta and Vinod Sultanpuri were present too.
At Bilaspur specifically, Rahul listed three main agenda of his party: health services to the poor, a house for everyone and pension for every senior citizen.
On Snoopgate & Modi: ‘If chowkidar steals…’
At the Solan rally, Congress V-P Rahul Gandhi brought up the snooping row in which Gujarat CM and BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi is alleged to have put surveillance on a young woman. He said the tapping of the phones of a woman was “enough evidence about the mentality of certain BJP leaders”. Cautioning the people against Modi’s favourite dialogue in which the BJP leader seeks ‘keys of power as a chowkidar (watchman)’, Rahul said, “Remember, sometimes even the chowkidar is found indulging in theft!”