Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi launched the party’s election campaign in Gujarat on Monday with a promise to give a government that would listen to `Mann Ki Baat’ of people while he took pot shots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for catering only to the rich.
Addressing a rally in Dediapada of Narmada district in Gujarat Monday, Gandhi unveiled his pro-poor agenda as he raised several issues including the Patidar agitation, land acquisition bills and demonetisation.
“On November 8 (when Modi announced demonetisation) Modiji told you that I am your PM and listen to my Mann ki Baat. And from today Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in your pockets are not valid,” said Gandhi adding, “The Congress’s government in Gujarat will listen to your Mann Ki Baat. It will be the government of all and not one person. We will fight the next elections with all our might and defeat Modiji and the BJP in Gujarat’’.
Assembly elections in Gujarat, where in the BJP has been in power for 22 years, are due in November-December. The Congress believes it has an edge given the anti-incumbency factor coupled with agitations for the OBC reservations by the Patidars who have traditionally formed a vital vote share for the BJP.
Dediapada has sizeable population of tribals. Before his address, Gandhi offered prayers at Dev Mogara Mataji temple. The Congress had mobilized thousands of locals for the rally, which was culmination of Adivasi Adhikar Yatra started by the party on April 3 from Ambaji. In February, the BJP had taken out 10-day Adivasi Gaurav Yatra, which had ended at Ambaji.
Nearly 30 seats in South and North Gujarat belt have significant tribal population. Traditionally seen as Congress stronghold, the BJP has been able to make inroads here in recent years.
Gandhi said that Patidars, who are supporters of the BJP, complained to him that they do not get admission in colleges. And when they asked for it, the police had beaten the women members of their community.
The Congress vice president also targeted Modi on the land acquisition bill. “Here the chunks of land have been given to industries. We brought Land Acquisition Bill. And, when Modiji won the elections he tried to scrap it through an ordinance.”
He further said, “He (Modi) makes big speeches and does marketing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create two crore jobs a year. Last year, only one lakh jobs were created. The Modi government’s reality is different from their marketing and tall talks’’.
Gandhi further said, “Today’s Gujarat is being ruled by some 10-15 people and you know their names’’.
“Patidar youth told me that entire education sector is controlled by 10-15 people close to Narendra Modi. In Vibrant Gujarat, nobody except those 10-15 people and have got any real benefits,” he said.