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Arun Jaitley accuses Congress of mimicking BJP’s Hindutva stance

On the recent Uttar Pradesh civil election results, the finance minister said it indicated Congress was on the cusp of extinction, and it was headed for a bitter defeat in Gujarat.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 03, 2017 07:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Surat, Hindustan Times
Arun Jaitley,BJP,Congress
Finance minister Arun Jaitley addresses a press conference ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, in Surat, on Saturday.(PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the original pro-Hindutva party and voters in Gujarat will not pick a “clone”, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday, taking a shot at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who has recently visited several temples as part of his campaign in the election-bound state.

During a speech in Surat, Jaitley also targeted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in town addressing a meeting. “It was a leaderless government. It was said that the then prime minister is in office, but not in power. Policy paralysis was the order of the day,” Jaitley said, labelling the previous government “most corrupt”.

Singh, during his programme, had accused his successor Narendra Modi of failing to understand the “pains” brought on by demonetisation and the rollout of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) in industrial belts such as Surat.

“Your business works on trust and relationships. Without trust in each other, Surat will collapse. You extended this trust to the prime minister and his promise of ‘acchhe din’ (good days). The hope symbolised in those dreams now lies shattered,” he said.

Singh also lamented the BJP’s “low-level rhetoric”, saying it hurt the discourse in the country.

Surat, known as the hub of diamond trade in India, votes in the first of the two-round elections due on December 9 and 14. PM Modi is set to address four rallies on Sunday and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is likely to be back in the state for three days from December 5.

Referring to the recent visits Gandhi made to temples in Gujarat, Jaitely said: “BJP has always been seen as a pro-Hindutva party and if someone wants to mimic us, I do not have any complaint. But there is a basic principle in politics, if an original is available why would anyone prefer a clone”.

Gandhi visited 21 temples in Gujarat, with the latest trip to Somnath temple on Wednesday. The BJP asked him to come clean on his religious leanings after accusing him of writing his name in a register meant for non-Hindus in the temple.

Congress denied that Gandhi made the entry, and a day later, the party vice-president said he and his family members were Shiv Bhakts but they did not discuss their faith for political mileage.

On the recent Uttar Pradesh civil election results, finance minister Jaitley said it indicated Congress was on the cusp of extinction, and it was headed for a bitter defeat in Gujarat. “While BJP has maintained its credibility, Congress is slowly becoming extinct,” he said.

Manmohan Singh’s criticism was largely centred around the Modi government’s economic policies. “In Surat alone, 89,000 powerlooms were sold as scrap and it led to a loss of 31,000 jobs,” he said referring to the note ban and the GST that, according to him, benefited China. “Imports from there increased by over 23% in a year”.

“The prime minister is from Gujarat, and he claims to understand Gujarat and the poor more than anyone else. How is it that he never understood the pains his decisions will unleash on you?” Singh asked.

Singh also said it was too early to conclude that the economic slowdown has reversed since the 6.3% growth rate in the July-September quarter did not take into account the small and medium sector, which suffered huge losses in the aftermath of demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST. He welcomed the 6.3% growth but cautioned that it was too early to conclude that the economy had recovered.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 22:30 IST