Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday kicked off the Congress election campaign in poll-bound Bihar calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "feku" (poser) and asking voters to beware of his "suit-boot ki sarkar."
Addressing a campaign rally in West Champaran, Rahul said Modi and his "suited-booted friends from Gujarat" would take away land in the name of development and that the uprooted people would be treated as outsiders if they tried to migrate elsewhere.
"He says that he and his friends wearing suit-boot will change India, give two crore new jobs every year, provide 100% enhanced minimum support price to farmers for their produce and would deposit Rs 15 lakh in everyone's account by getting back black money stashed abroad. Tell me whether any of these things happened? Feku tha, hai ( He was, and will remain a poser)" Gandhi said.
He said the government only made false promises and that there was no improvement in unemployment, inflation and poverty.
The rally was the first big show of the grand alliance after the 'Swabhiman rally' in Patna on August 30 and was held in the region where Mahatma Gandhi held an agitation to free farmers from indigo farming forced by Britishers.
'Shed the suit-boot'
The Congress leader used the reference to draw contrasts between Modi's style of functioning and the simple ways of the father of the nation.
"While the Mahatma shed his suit and donned a dhoti as he led the poor farmers, Modi who claimed to have started as a chaiwala (tea seller) started wearing Rs 15 lakh suit after becoming Prime Minister," Gandhi said.
In his speech the Congress leader made frequent attempts to paint Modi and the BJP-led NDA as a club of the rich.
"RSS and BJP think that the poor and the weaker sections have no knowledge. They do not come to you and do no mix up with you. They want to keep their suits clean," he said citing the example of BJP-ruled Rajasthan where a person below 10th pass cannot contest local bodies elections.
"We want to shed the suit-boot, embrace the dhoti. This is our thinking," Gandhi said reminding the gathering that there was no one among them flaunting a suit.
He also alleged that RSS and the BJP rake up communal tension whenever elections approach
In an indication of minor faultlines within the alliance, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad were not present at the rally 'due to their engagement with finalisation of candidates'.
The RJD supremo is said to nurse a grudge against the Congress vice-president for trashing an ordinance to protect tainted politicians about two years ago.
BJP calls Rahul a 'baby'
Immediately after his speech, the Bharatiya Janata Party hit back at Gandhi for the "feku" jibe and called him a "baby."
"Rahul Gandhi is a baby of the Congress. Neither the people in his party nor the people of this country, take him seriously. It was told earlier that he would be made the president of the party, but because of all these misleading comments, he is not being made the president," BJP national secretary Srikant Sharma told ANI.
"People of Bihar have also not taken him seriously, and that is why you could see that big leaders like Lalu and Nitish skipped his rally," he added.
(With agency inputs)