Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today said only genuine party workers who have fought against the BJP and its ideological parent RSS will get tickets to contest the Assembly polls in Gujarat. In an interaction with Congress workers aimed at galvanising them ahead of the polls due later this year, he assailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development model, which he claimed had failed in Gujarat. He attacked the NDA government over a host of issues– from demonetisation to unemployment–as he interacted with party workers on the Sabarmati riverfront. “Tickets will be distributed soon and only to genuine party workers who have fought against the BJP and RSS.
Those who parachuted into the party recently would not be given tickets,” he said, responding to a question by party worker Satish Pandya, who claimed Congress gave tickets to only those with money and muscle power. At the interaction called ‘Samvad’, Gandhi raised various issues like demonetisation, goods and services tax (GST), unemployment, alleged plight of farmers, and “poor” healthcare and eduction, to target Modi and the BJP. He said all these will ensure the defeat of the BJP in Gujarat. “The BJP and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) are scared of the outcome of the Gujarat assembly polls. You cannot hide the truth for long,” Gandhi said, asserting the Congress, which has been out of power in the state for over two decades, will win the election.
Taking about Modi’s development plank, he said the “hollowness” of the BJP’s “Gujarat model of development” stood exposed. “This model did not help anyone, be it youth, farmers, small businessmen or shopkeepers. Only select 5-10 persons benefited from it,” he said. State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki read out the questions submitted by party workers beforehand. Responding to a query about whether media was controlled by the BJP, the Congress leader said the Modi government was putting “undue pressure on media”. “Modiji gives money to big corporate houses which control media. In Gujarat, six to seven friends of Modi are controlling the media. We know that Modiji is pressuring the media. Even some media persons have told me that they are scared,” he claimed.
He accused Modi of extending benefits to corporate entities while ignoring farmers. “When Modiji was chief minister of Gujarat he gave Rs 36,000 crore for Tata Nano, but didn’t give anything to farmers of the state. The total amount he gave to the Tatas, including the cost of land to run the Nano plant, was Rs 60,000 crore. But how many Nano cars you see on roads?” he said. He asked Congress workers to expose the “lies” being spread by the BJP about development. “You have so many electoral issues such as the hardships being faced by farmers, demonetisation, GST and unemployment. Our workers will fight against the BJP at the booth level and expose their lies,” he said. He said the country’s economic growth dipped by two per cent due to demonetisation which hit the poor most.
Referring to the quantum of notes returned to RBI post invalidation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, he said, the figures had shown that demonetisation was a futile exercise. Taking on the Modi government over the GST, he said it was far removed from the one proposed by the Congress-led UPA government. “We had said that GST should not have so many different rate slabs and that the highest tax slab under it should not be above 18 per cent, but this government has decided to charge 28 per cent,” he said. Gandhi said the Congress party wanted to work for the development of small and medium scale businesses. “Small-scale industries alone can take on China. However, Modiji is interested only in benefiting a few top businessmen,” he said, replying to another query.