Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in his strongest attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on his home turf on Tuesday compared the Gujarat chief minister to Adolf Hitler saying that the German dictator believed whatever decisions he took and executed were the best.
The Congress leader was addressing a massive rally in Balasinor in central Gujarat, which is traditionally a Congress stronghold.
"There are two types of leaders. One who meets with people, visits their homes like Gandhiji did and understands them and their problems. Such a leader is humble and has no arrogance, like Gandhiji," he said.
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"There is another type of leader: Hitler, who believed there was no need to learn from the people. Whatever happened in Germany was done by Hitler and the people had nothing to do with it," he said, adding that such leaders only talk and claim credit for everything.
He claimed that the Congress party had leaders of the first kind who understand people's desires and how the state of Gujarat had managed to grow with efforts and hard work put in by the men and women of the state.
Gandhi did not take Modi's name, but left no room for doubt when he raked up the Gujarat CM's bid to project himself as the people's "watchman" in New Delhi.
"India doesn't need a security guard, people of the nation need their rights."
He accused the state of snatching away land from farmers, a charge that has been levelled against the Modi government by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal as well.
"Is stealing land from the poor considered safeguarding their interests? Is that what a watchman does?"
"Taking away farmers' lands without any compensation is chori (theft), not chowkidari," he said.
Taking on Modi's development claims, the Gandhi family scion said Gujarat was shining only for a few industrialists, who prospered at the expense of common men in the state.
"Gujarat is shining, but only for a handful of people. It is not shining for the poor or the women."
He also lambasted the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for taking credit for the success of Amul and for appropriating the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi.
On Modi's pet project, the proposed statue of Sardar Patel, Gandhi said building a statue was fine, but people must know more about him before doing it.
"You should be educated yourself to talk about Sardar Patel."
He added, "Gujarat has given us Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. They are not two people, there are ideologies. They (BJP) say they will erase the Congress, then why don't they ask who made the Congress. It was Gandhi and Patel together."
Gandhi said the BJP's problem was anger.
"They are filled with anger, hatred. Congress is all about love."
Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday dismissed as "absurd" his remarks likening its prime ministerial candidate to Adolf Hitler and accused Congress of bringing down the level of public discourse.
"... they (Congressmen) are the followers of Hitler. It is an absurd allegation," he told reporters in Bangalore, responding to Rahul's piercing attack on Modi on his home turf where he also ridiculed his development model.
Naidu said it was Congress which imposed the Emergency and put lakhs of political workers and leaders like Jayprakash Narain behind the bars.
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(With inputs from PTI)