Rahul Gandhi is in Modi's bastion Gujarat, while Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath and Smriti Irani have chosen Amethi to launch counter-offensive. What's cooking?
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is visiting Gujarat with a bag of promises ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Gandhi, in order to encash anti-incumbency faced by BJP, is trying to convince voters that PM Narendra Modi and BJP ingnored states’ interest. While the Congress vice-chief is in Gujarat, BJP chief Amit Shah, and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath have reached Amethi, the home turf of Gandhis, in what appears to be a counter-offensive from the saffron camp against the Congress. Addressing people in Amethi on Tuesday, Shah launched a scathing attack on Gandhi. “Rahul baba always asks us what Modiji has done for the nation, I would like to ask Congress’ ‘shahzada’ Rahul Gandhi the same question. What have you done for people of Amethi, who gave you nothing but their whole-hearted support and love? Have you done anything for those who look up to you?” Shah said.
Shah was joined by CM Yogi Adityanath, Union textiles minister Smriti Irani. On one hand, the Chief Minister came out all guns blazing against Congress, on the other, he made a number of promises to the people. Adityanath said the Grand Old Party never bothered about villages of Rae Bareilly and Amethi. The Chief Minister charged Congress of illegally grabbing the land of farmers. In his trademark style, Adityanath said, “the conspiracy by ‘Jija’ (Brother-in-law) and ‘Beta’ (Son) to grab land for Samrat Cycles, under the Rajiv Gandhi foundation’s name, will not materialise as long as we are here.”
Irani is a frequent visitor to Amethi despite losing the 2014 elections to Rahul. Shah and Adityanath also spoke about this, saying she has devoted her time for the constituency. A day before, Jung Bahadur Singh, who was top local functionary for Congress between 2007 and 2017, announced his decision to join the BJP. Jung too charged Congress with what BJP has been claiming for long – of neglecting Amethi.
“Despite having a government at the Centre for two terms (2004 to 2014), no significant step was taken to ensure development, and as a result Amethi became synonymous with bad roads,” Singh had said on Monday. Bahadur’s exodus from party could be concern for Congress as on the one hand it will strengthen BJP, on other, it will weaken Congress’ local unit. BJP’s attacks on Congress and its boss have come at a significant time. Rahul is all set to become Congress President soon. The soon-to-be Congress captain has drawn his campaign keeping GST flaws and Unemployment as main issues.
On Tuesday, he also charged RSS, claiming the latter is “oppressive” towards women: “Have you ever seen any woman in RSS wearing shorts, I have never seen,” he said. Taking a dig at the PM, Rahul said, “Gujarat knows that Narendra Modi’s Gujarat Model has failed.” “Gujarat mein vikaas ko kya hua? Ye kaise pagal hua? Ye jhooth sun sun ke pagal ho gaya hai (What happened to development in Gujarat? Lies have led to its failure.” Yesterday only, Gandhi, without naming Narendra Modi or demonetisation, said that a leader can’t force things on people and make them cry. “A leader’s job is to look 5-10 years ahead and not implement things forcibly that will make people cry,” he had said.