Mistry arrived in Vadodara on Sunday and launched his campaign with scathing attacks on Modi and the BJP chanting the “Halla Bol” slogan. Calling himself a “Man of Development”, Mistry vowed to burst Modi’s bubble of Vadodara being a “safe seat” and said that Modi was “buying out” Congress MLAs as he needed the support of the Congress party to win the election.
Mistry’s aggressive attack on Modi and the BJP included drawing parallels with Modi’s “chaiwala” status and questioning Rajnath Singh on his stand over Baba Ramdev’s “videshi looteri bahu” comment for Sonia Gandhi.
Mistry, who called himself a “chawlwala” (slum dweller) said that he had been a labourer all his life and understood what poverty was, unlike Modi. “He calls himself a chaiwala, I am a chaliwala. I have worked as a daily wage labourer, mason, painter and such small odd jobs and I am proud of it. I understand what poverty is, unlike Modi, who failed to turn up to see the plight of the poor families that died in the Madhavnagar crash — a housing scheme his government claims to have made for the poor,” Mistry said in a 20-minute speech at the Vijay Abhiyan Sammelan in Karelibaug, where he gave 500-odd workers a pep talk on Sunday.
Mistry is also the Uttar Pradesh in-charge of the Congress party for Lok Sabha elections. He said, “Modi asks what did the Congress done for 60 years. The Congress brought the Constitution that gives you (Modi) the Freedom of Speech to speak like this in public. People say Modi is incorruptible, but he has a strategy for corruption where the favours are directed in different ways.”
Earlier, while addressing the mediapersons on his arrival, Mistry demanded an explanation from BJP president Rajnath Singh over Ramdev’s “videshi looteri bahu” remark for Sonia Gandhi. Mistry said, “I want Rajnath Singh to explain if he endorses the view Ramdev has expressed about Soniaji and the crass language in which he has described her. Singh should immediately clarify his stand on this issue.”
He also said that maintaining dignity while campaigning is not the prerogative of one party. “Our party leaders, especially vice-president Rahul Gandhi, have made it very clear that we must maintain dignity while campaigning. He has denounced the (Imran Masood’s) Saharanpur hate speech and the candidate has been sent to jail. But dignity cannot be one sided.”
Mistry said that by choosing to contest from Varanasi, Modi had proven that he has no confidence in the people of Gujarat, although he speaks of Gujarati pride.
GPCC president Arjun Modhwadia too, took the opportunity to lash out at Modi and the BJP. Although the BJP expelled former JD(U) leader Sabir Ali from the party, Modhwadia alleged that Ali was inducted in the party because he had helped Modi cover up the murder of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya by facilitating the escape of the assassins to Bangladesh.
In an aggressive attack on Modi’s relations with Ali, Modhwadia said, “The whole episode surrounding Ali’s inclusion in the BJP is a clear evidence on how Modi is returning favours to those who have helped him capture power in Gujarat. It is a well-known fact that Modi killed Pandya in order to rise to the top in Gujarat because Pandya had refused to pave way for him. BJP leaders themselves are saying that Ali has helped Modi facilitate the escape of Pandya’s killers because he is close to Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Yasin Bhatkal. Slowly, Modi will also start doing favours to Dawood if he helps him.”
Modhwadia was referring to the comment of BJP Muslim leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s accusation that Ali was a friend of IM commander Yasin Bhatkal. Later, at the Sammelan, Modhwadia said that Modi could not be trusted as a leader as he has not even fulfilled his duties towards his wife.
“Instead, he has gone around snooping women with binoculars and help from his aide Amit Shah who is an incarnation of Azhar Masood (Jaish-e-Mohammad chief). No one will know what interest ‘Saheb’ had in another woman.”