Launching his party’s poll campaign in Gujarat, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today vowed to fight the state assembly elections “with full force” and defeat the BJP. Addressing a huge rally in this tribal-dominated area of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi took a jibe at him over “Mann ki Baat” program and said the PM believed only in making people listen to him, instead of listening to the people. “The Congress will fight this election with full force and defeat Narendra Modi and the BJP here,” he said. The state assembly elections are due later this year. “The Congress does not believe in just telling its own `Mann ki Baat,’ as we believe in listening to the people. When our government is formed here, we will listen to the people first and then work accordingly,” Gandhi said.
“I have selected a team of Congress leaders, led by Ashok Gehlot, and sent them here (to fight election). I want to promise you that if the Congress wins, our government will be of everyone, not of just one person. Instead of just telling our ‘mann ki baat,’ our government will try to understand your ‘mann ki baat’,” said Gandhi.
“The working style of our government will make you realise that it is the collective effort of all the people which can change Gujarat, not just one person,” Gandhi said. The Congress vice president also said that Modi was good at only coming up with new slogans like ‘Make In India’ and ‘Shining India,’ while the ground reality in Gujarat and elsewhere in the country has not changed under the BJP rule.
He also alleged that the decision to demonetise high value currency notes was taken only to make people realise how powerful the prime minister was.”The PM scrapped the currency notes just to make people realise how powerful he is. He wanted to convey that he has the power to make the entire country stand in queue. When people asked questions, he told them to just listen to his Mann ki Baat on ‘Make in India,’ ‘Shining India’ etc,” he said.
Gandhi recalled the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Congress in establishing the milk cooperative movement, known by its popular Amul brand, in Gujarat. “It is the foundation day of Gujarat today. The state has made tremendous progress during this 60-70 years. This development was brought about by not just one person, but by the millions of women and farmers of Gujarat. The Congress also played a crucial role in it,” he said.
He cited the example of Polson company, which he said enjoyed a monopoly in Gujarat’s dairy sector before Amul came. Praising Gujarat’s women farmers associated with the Amul cooperative movement, he said even the dairy companies of Australia and New Zealand dare not enter the Indian market as they cannot compete with these women. “Gandhiji sent Sardar Patel to Gujarat to help women and fight against Polson company, which used to snatch milk from the locals and sell it to the British army. After consistent efforts of Gandhiji, Sardar and one Tribhuvan Patel, Amul was created,” said Gandhi.
Just as Polson once imposed its own rules on farmers, a cabal of 10-15 persons was ruling Gujarat now, he said. The Congress leader termed the Vibrant Gujarat Summit as a marketing tool. “No community benefited from Vibrant Gujarat, which was just a marketing tool. It only benefited 10-15 persons, who give money for such marketing. At present these 10-15 persons are ruling Gujarat. I will not take their names as you already know them,” said Gandhi. He also touched on the Patel quota agitation.
“Patidars once came to meet me and told me that their children are not getting proper education. It was very shocking for me. If Patidars, who supported Modi all the time, are saying this, then I wonder who are getting the benefits? “I will tell you the reality. The entire education system has been hijacked by 10-15 persons. All the colleges and universities are under their control. They are getting all the money from capitation fees. They are the friends of Modi and the BJP,” alleged Gandhi.
The Congress leader also accused Modi of failing to fulfil his pre-poll promises and trying to snatch the rights of tribals and poor people after becoming the PM in 2014. “Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Modi ji promised to create two crore jobs every year. The latest figures clearly suggest that only one lakh people were given employment last year. This year, no one was given employment.
“In Gujarat, the people are very angry, as they put their faith in Modi but received nothing. Modi used the poor people, farmers and small traders for his personal gain but gave nothing in return,” Gandhi said. The Congress leader also alleged that the Gujarat government “gifted” thousands of acres of land to industrialists while marginal farmers were “beaten up” for demanding their rights.