Rating the year-old Narendra Modi government a zero on 10, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused it on Monday of playing “vendetta politics”, as he vowed to fight for a mega food park project in his constituency that was cancelled by the Centre.
Gandhi, who kicked off a three-day trip to Amethi to meet cultivators who have suffered crop loss because of inclement weather, also took a dig at the Prime Minister’s frequent foreign visits and said he did not have time for farmers back home.
“Had the food park been set up, it would have changed the fate of farmers. By cancelling it, the Modi government has dealt a blow to farmers. He has snatched it from them and not from me. We will put pressure on the government to get it back,” he said at a public meeting. “The PM went to the US, Canada, China and Mongolia, but has not visited the houses of hailstorm-hit farmers.”
The 44-year-old has been unusually spirited since his return from a nearly eight-week break, as he has launched a series of frontal attacks on the government over issues ranging from the farm crisis to net neutrality, marched through the backwoods to meet fretting farmers and trekked to the Hindu holy spot of Kedarnath.
Gandhi has repeatedly stoked a raging row over the Shaktiman Mega Food Park that the Centre scrapped as the project failed to take off in the five years from the time it was sanctioned.
The Lok Sabha lawmaker got out of his car and trekked two kilometres under the sizzling sun to the site where the food park was to be built, as hundreds of people scampered behind him.
“Our government is neither in the state nor at the Centre but we (Congress) shall do all that is best in the interest of the public,” he said.
Gandhi’s latest attack on the government came in the wake of union minister Smriti Irani's tour of the Congress bastion – where she unsuccessfully contested against him in the Lok Sabha election – and her charge that he cared more about a business house than the farmers of Amethi.
“The move of BJP-led government has affected farmers and labourers of Amethi and 10 neighbouring districts. The Centre wanted to take revenge from me, but the move has affected farmers,” he said, while he also blamed the government for favouring capitalists. “If we talk of farmers and labourers, I will give zero out of 10 (to the Modi government)... (But) if some industrialists and corporate houses are concerned, I will give 10 out of 10.”