Ramnagar (Bihar): Kicking off the Congress campaign in poll-bound Bihar, Rahul Gandhi today raked up the ‘suit boot ki sarkar' jibe to target the Modi government, warning people that they would lose their land and livelihood if NDA came to power.
Addressing a rally in this West Champaran region where Mahatama Gandhi had waged a battle to free farmers from indigo farming forced by Britishers, the Congress vice president suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the anti-thesis of the Mahatma.
“While the Mahatma shed his suit and donned a dhoti as he led the poor farmers, Modi who claimed to have started as a chaiwala (tea seller) started wearing Rs. 15 lakh suit after becoming Prime Minister,” Mr. Gandhi said, painting Modi and the BJP-led NDA as a ‘club of the rich'.
On the one hand, there is Gandhiji who worked amid the poor and the labourers, shed his suit and on the other, there is Modiji who meets only people who wear suit-boot and not the poor and the oppressed.
“He says that I and my friends wearing suit-boot will change India. Give two crore new jobs every year, provide 100 per cent enhanced minimum support price to farmers for their produce and would deposit Rs. 15 lakh in everyone's account by getting back black money stashed abroad. Tell me whether any of these things happened?” Mr. Gandhi asked amid cries of ‘No, no” from the audience.
A day before the Congress is organising a mega kisan samman rally in the national capital, Mr. Gandhi warned people of the backward agrarian state that “Modiji and his friends wearing suit-boot want to usurp your land. They say you give your land and they will give development and jobs to the youth of Bihar.
“Your land will be taken away and you will not get any employment. We have formed this alliance because we want to protect poor, weak and the oppressed. We want to save you from Modiji and his friends.”
Mr. Gandhi said that if the BJP government came to power here, two-three people from Gujarat and Delhi wearing expensive suits will come and claim the land asking for removal farmers from there.
Gandhi also alluded to the recent controversy in the BJP-ruled Mahrashtra over making Marathi language mandatory for getting license to ply auto.
"When you go to other states for jobs like Maharasthra, then you will be told that you will not get that because you do not know their language," he said.
Attacking Modi on the issue of corruption, he cited the Lalit Modi controversy, Vyapam scam and PDS scam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively.
"Modi used to say neither he will engage in corruption nor will he allow anybody to do so (naa khaoonga, naa khaane doonga). He kept on saying it when External Minister Sushma Swaraj was helping Lalit Modi, when the entire education system was sold out in MP and Vyapam scam happened. PDS scam took place in Chhattisgarh.
"We were providing free medicines in Rajasthan, when there was a Congress government there. Vasundhara Raje's government stopped this. You all know how much money one has to pay in private hospitals for treatment," he said.
Projecting the grand secular alliance as "pro-poor and pro-farmer", the Congress Vice President said if the alliance formed the government the voice of the weak and poor will be heard and youth will be given Rs 4 lakh loan for education.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar was also present on the dais from which Gandhi talked about the contribution of B R Ambedkar and Jagjivan Ram for the cause of dalits.
"It was not only Gandhiji, who fought for the poor. B R Ambedkar, Jagjivan Ram, Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru also fought for them. Congress party works for them," he said seeking to contrast it with the functioning of the RSS and the BJP.
"RSS and BJP think in a different manner. They believe that the poor and the weaker sections have no knowledge. They do not come to you and do no mix up with you. They want to keep their suits clean," he said citing the example of BJP-ruled Rajasthan where a person below 10th pass cannot contest local bodies elections.
"We want to shed the suit boot, embrace the dhoti. This is our thinking," Gandhi said reminding the gathering that there is no suit boot flaunting person in the audience.
"I had raised the matter of suit boot government in Parliament also and told them that their's is not a government of the poor," he said.
Accusing RSS and BJP of playing the communal card during polls, he said,"whenever RSS-BJP see elections nearing, they start putting one community against the other. They had done so in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during last Lok Sabha polls.
They will do it again" and advised people not to fall for it.