Smriti Irani on Sunday chose a masala factory site in Amethi to spice up the war of words with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, accusing the opposition party of “diverting” farmland acquired for a factory to a trust.
The Union HRD minister, who lost to Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but dented his victory margin in the Congress stronghold, alleged that 65 acres purchased in the 1980s from farmers for a cycle factory was re-purchased though auction by the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in February 2015.
She said the act exposed the Congress’s love for farmers at a time Gandhi and his party were accusing the NDA government of being anti-farmer.
Popularly known as Didi among her supporters, the minister was in Amethi to participate in the BJP’s Raksha Bandhan outreach programme, where she brought the Prime Minister’s accident insurance scheme to 25,000 women as Rakhi gift.
She exhorted the BJP cadre to tell the people about the “Samrat cycle ka sachh”, or the truth about the proposed Samrat cycle factory which was to be set up on farmers’ land but later allegedly bought by the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.
“Zameen kiski (whose land is it)?” Irani asked the crowd, cupping an ear lest she missed their response.
“Kisano ki (farmers),” they roared.
“Kiske liye (for what)?” Irani fired again.
“Factory ke liye (for factory),” the audience responded.
“Gaiey kisko (where did it go)?” she kept up the tempo.
“Congress ko (to the Congress),” she chorused with the crowd.
Then she turned to local lawyer Uma Shankar Pandey to explain the nitty-gritty of the “land deal”.
He said the UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC), which had originally allotted the land to Samrat cycles has now objected to the Congress-owned trust’s purchase of the plot. “The entire auction has been challenged by the UPSIDC,” Pandey said.
The BJP allegation came three days after Gandhi reprised his “suit boot ki sarkar” jibe against the Narendra Modi government, saying only the Congress could provide a “kurta-pajama ki sarkar” to farmers and the poor.