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Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat: Modi govt’s development claims are like a dream running on TV

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, on the last day of his Navsarjan Yatra in Gujarat, questioned the BJP government’s claims of progress.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2017 18:19 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Chhota Udaipur
Rahul Gandhi,Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat,Narendra Modi
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at a public meeting at Bodeli in Chhota Udaipur district of Gujarat on Tuesday. (PTI)

The Modi government’s claim development is a dream running only on television, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday as he fired another salvo at the BJP on the last day of his visit to poll-bound Gujarat.

Gandhi attended a series of meetings in central Gujarat, including at a place close to Godhra where a train burning incident triggered the 2002 riots. The fresh attack from the 47-year-old Congress leader came a day after he and BJP chief Amit Shah traded charges over corruption and development claims from each others’ home turfs.

Assembly elections in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are likely in December.

“The BJP’s development claim is nothing but a dream which is being run on TV. The money to run this dream comes from few industrialists,” the Congress leader said in an interaction with students at Chhota Udaipur.

“You tell me your mann ki baat. This platform will help take up your issues with the government,” Gandhi added, in a veiled dig at PM’s monthly radio address, Mann ki Baat.

The Congress is looking to deflate the “Gujarat model of progress”, which the BJP showcased in the run-up to 2014 general elections that saw chief minister Modi become PM Modi.

At various places, Gandhi interacted with the crowds, asking questions and even danced with a local tribal troupe at Devgadh Baria, he danced with a tribal group holding a sword. At Limkheda, he was seen sporting embroidered tribal attire.

At the same time, Gandhi maintained a short-Hindutva image that party seems to have been building as a counter to the BJP’s allegations that the Congress was anti-Hindu. After visits to temples on previous days, on the last day of his three-day Navsarjan Yatra, Gandhi visited two temple.

Gandhi’s entourage travelled through Godhra city, where the Sabamati Express coach was set on fire killing 57 karsevkas .

The Congress leader participated in a meeting at Tuwa village, some 20km from Godhra, to have discussion on demonetisation and GST with workers, small businessmen and farmers.

Once a Congress bastion, the BJP made inroads into the tribal belt in 2002 when the assembly elections were held in the backdrop of post-Godhra riots.

In power for almost 22 years now, the BJP is facing anti-incumbency and the anger of the powerful Patidar community demanding quota in education and government jobs. Attacks on Dalits and Muslims have added to the government’s trouble.

Gandhi asked one of the girls if she could speak in English. The students, most of them in college, said they were not well-versed with English. He promised students that the Congress would improve education infrastructure and work towards creating jobs.

Gandhi again accused the government of protecting big business groups known to be close to the party.

“There is a protest going on in Australia against Adani but Gujarat has never seen any protest against Adani. This is because the BJP government is committed to serve the interests of four-five industrialists,” he said.

Protests were held across Australia on Saturday against Indian mining giant Adani’s proposed $16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine project, which has been hit by environmental and financing issues.

Days after the Prime Minister on September 17 dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation, Gandhi asked the crowd at Devgadh Baria, “Has Narmada water reached you? The fact is water, electricity and everything has been given to some industrialists by the BJP government’’.

At the Limkheda, Gandhi again tried to make a point that only big ticket projects have been favoured by the BJP. “The Congress allotted Rs 35,000 crore to MNERGA and provided employment to lakhs. The BJP gave Rs 35,000 crore for the Tata Nano plant. Has anyone seen (any) Nano on the road?” he asked.

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 13:07 IST