Gujarat election 2017: Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reached out to the Patel voters of Gujarat on Thursday. While Rahul led an aggressive pitch, invoking Sardar Patel to ask the community to rout BJP in upcoming polls; PM Modi attended the silver jubilee celebrations of Akshardham Temple of the Swaminarayan sect. PM Modi refrained from making a political statement at the event but his presence was significant in this heated poll season as most of the followers of the sect are Patels.
Speaking in Gujarati, Modi struck a chord with the Patels, “This Swaminaryan sect has a very large following among the Patel community members. Patel community has traditionally been with the BJP, but a section of the community has turned against the party due to recent agitation for reservation.” he said.
With some help from Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Congress is trying to woo the Patels, who have backed Modi for decades. Patel’s constitute around 12-14% voters of Gujarat. There are believed to be unhappy with the BJP over the issue of reservation.
Meanwhile at Nana Pondha, Rahul Gandhi drew an analogy with the Pandava-Kaurava tussle in the epic Mahabharata, saying that the fight between his party and the BJP in Gujarat was one between “truth and lies”, where the truth lay on the Congress’s side. Rahul said he has “truth” on his side, even as Modi was was armed with his “government, police, army, governments in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh”.
“The fight is between truth and lies. Kauravas had a huge army, weapons, and Pandavas only had truth and nothing else. I would like to tell you that we only have truth and nothing else,” PTI quoted his as saying in Nana Pondha town in the tribal-dominated Valsad district.
“The truth of Gujarat has nothing to do with the truth of BJP. And the truth of BJP has nothing to do with the truth of Gujarat…The truth of Gujarat is unemployment among youths, difficulties faced by farmers, costly private education and health care, corruption and theft of land. And the truth of BJP is profits pocketed by five-ten corporates, theft of land and water, and toffee of Rs 35,000 crore in the name of Nano (apparent reference to a loan for Tata Nano plant), and ‘suit-boot ki yaari’ (closeness to corporates),” he said.
At a time when both BJP and Congress are fighting another politically-flavored battle over the alleged neglect of Sardar Patel by the latter, Rahul also invoked the Sardar and Mahatma Gandhi. The Congress VP said that just like these two leaders brought the British to their knees, now is the time for six crore people of Gujarat to root out BJP from Gujarat after 22 years.