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Rahul questions PM’s ‘silence’ on key issues, says Congress will win 2019 elections

Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old Congress president, accused PM Modi of making “hollow promises and speaking lies”.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2018 23:01 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,2019 general elections,Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses the ‘Jan Aakrosh’ rally in New Delhi on Sunday. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia)

In one of his sharpest attacks on the National Democratic Alliance government’s policies and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said that the “country’s watchman is silent” on graft and predicted his party’s victory in the upcoming round of assembly elections and next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Addressing his first public gathering in the national Capital since taking over as the party president last December, the 47-year-old accused Modi of making “hollow promises and speaking lies” during his nearly 35-minute speech in Hindi at the well-attended ‘Jan Aakrosh (public anger)’ rally at Ramlila Maidan.

The rally, held with the Red Fort as a backdrop and attended by a battery of senior Congress leaders, including former party president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was seen by experts as the flagging-off of the party’s 2019 campaign.

“I will tell you why Congress will win the elections — because our workers give their blood and sweat, stand in the heat for the party. Woh sher ka bacha aur satya ka sipahi hai (he is a lion’s cub and a soldier of truth). You kill him, beat him, break his legs, fire at him, but he will not leave the fight for truth,” Gandhi said.

Assembly polls are due this year in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Among other allegations — related to corruption, Dalits, the Supreme Court, unemployment and rural distress — the Congress president questioned Modi’s meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan last week, accusing the PM of not putting forth India’s point of view.

“People have a hard time in finding the truth in what Modi-ji says. He did not speak a single word on Doklam. What kind of Prime Minister is he? He tasted tea with Chinese president and held meeting without a single agenda,” Gandhi said. “China’s army is entrenched in Doklam, they are making helipads, extending airport and the India’s Prime Minister held discussions without any agenda. What does this mean? None of the Prime Ministers had done such a thing but only Narendra Modi can do this.”

In response, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismissed the Congress rally as farce, with party chief Amit Shah calling it a “Parivar Akrosh (family anger)” rally that highlighted increasing irrelevance of a “dynasty and their courtiers who have been sent out of power from one state after another”.

“People are not tolerating the Congress’s lies, empty promises, corruption and communalism. If the Congress really wants to know why there is ‘Jan Akrosh’, they should answer why they disallowed Parliament to function and why it has prevented the formation of an OBC (other backward castes) commission that gives justice to backward sections,” Shah tweeted.

In his speech, Gandhi alleged that the Modi government was “willing” to waive off ?2.5 lakh crore loans of a few industrialists but was “not ready to do the same for farmers, who were being forced” to commit suicide.

“The farmers cannot survive without the Congress. If the Congress had not stood up, all the land of farmers would have been snatched by Narendra Modi,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi accused the Modi government of “betraying” the people by not keeping its promises and alleged that corruption had taken “deeper roots” since it came to power in 2014. She also alleged that the government has left no stone unturned in targeting political rivals and undermining institutions, saying a “serious crisis” had gripped the top judiciary for the first time ever.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that democracy was in danger with the Modi government consistently undermining constitutional institutions. “It’s the time the Modi government should give an account of its work to the people of the country,” he said.

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 13:51 IST