Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday of masquerading as a pro-poor messiah but devoting extra time for at least 50 rich and influential industrialists.
Also, he alleged that the Prime Minister wants to impose his face on everything, citing the latest khadi commission calendar controversy in which Modi’s image replaced the enduring picture of Mahatma Gandhi spinning the charkha.
“If things go on like this you will find Ramlila actors wearing Modi masks from next year, instead of Lord Ram’s,” he told a gathering of party workers in Rishikesh.
Gandhi was at the town known for its temples and yoga centres to prep up Congress workers for the February 15 assembly polls. The ruling party is up against the BJP in a two-pronged fight in this hill state.
Gandhi showed his torn kurta pocket to illustrate his point.
“He wants to replace Mahatma Gandhi, but wears clothes worth Rs 15 lakh. I have my khadi kurta with a torn pocket.”
The Prime Minister had stirred a row when he wore a Rs10-lakh monogrammed suit during his meeting with US President Barack Obama in New Delhi last year. The suit has pinstripes with “Narendra Damodardas Modi” woven into it in gold letters.
Gandhi charged Modi with demolishing established institutions and infringing upon their autonomy such as the Reserve Bank of India.
“He wants to run this country only by himself … He took the decision to demonetise the economy in a single minute and do so in the case of Orop as well. But he doesn’t want agitating ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar (in New Delhi) to get the benefits of Orop.”
Orop — one rank, one pension — is an emotive issue for Uttarakhand, which has two of India’s finest military legions in the Garhwal and Kumaon regiments.
The Congress and the BJP blame each other for not implementing the policy, which promises to equalise pension payments for retired military personnel who served at the same rank and for the same amount of time, regardless of the year they retired.
At a poll rally in Dehradun in December, Prime Minister Modi accused the previous Congress-led UPA government of ignoring the former soldiers’ demand for uniform retirement benefits, saying “jawans who sacrifice their lives” were being cheated”.
On Monday, the Congress vice president alleged Modi was unwilling to implement Orop that would benefit the brave soldiers of Uttarakhand and the country.
The BJP described Gandhi’s Rishikesh meeting a flop show, saying he had nothing to discuss but criticise the Prime Minister.
“The rally was a super flop. He did drama by showing his torn kurta at the event. It seems he is worst-hit by the demonetisation drive that aims at curbing black money and exposing corrupt people,” said Naresh Bansal, the party’s state spokesperson.
(With inputs from Nihi Sharma)