Rahul Gandhi targeted the Prime Minister again Thursday, accusing him of revenge politics in Amethi rather than keeping his promise of change. The Amethi MP demanded an explanation why permission to a food park in his constituency was cancelled.
“The PM gave a 52-minute speech in Amethi ahead of the elections,” Rahul said. “I was impressed when he said he would follow politics and policies guided by badlaav, not badla (change, not revenge)… but that is exactly what he has done.”
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not present then. Rahul’s attack drew a reply out of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who told him, “I will have the matter looked into and personally inform you.” Government floor managers suggested it was the company engaged that had pulled out.
Outside Parliament, minister Smriti Irani, who had contested against Rahul in Amethi, hit back at him. “The food park was announced in 2010 (during UPA)… Eight extensions were sought for the project as it was not considered viable. But did the MP take even eight steps to make the project a reality?” she said. “As a person who stayed out of the country for 56 days, he is not aware how change is also touching Amethi.”
Rahul had begun by citing a conversation with a farmer who wanted to know how a pack of chips made with one potato is priced at Rs 10 when a kilo of the tuber sells at Rs 2. “Aap bataiye yeh kya jadoo ho raha hein,” Rahul quoted the farmer as having said.
As BJP MPs, started interrupting him, Rahul told them, “Don’t worry, I am not talking about a suit, I want to speak on aloo,” a reference to the outrage his earlier “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe had caused them.
Rajnath stood up to respond. “I too have lived in a village and was born in a farmer’s household,” he began. “You referred to jadoo. This jadoo is not something our government invented, it was your party’s government that invented this jadoo.”
Jyotiraditya Scindia and other Congress MPs protested, some prompted by Sonia Gandhi. Rajnath also tried to correct Rahul that the price per kg of potato, rather than Rs 2, could become Rs 50 to Rs 75 when it becomes a pack chips. As BJP MPs and ministers tried to prompt him, Rajnath asked them to be quiet and let him speak.
About the food park, he said the UPA had given approval in principle in 2010 and assured Rahul the issue would be looked into.
When Rahul came out, he spoke to reporters, a routine since his return from his sabbatical. “The PM mentioned he is not going to do politics of revenge but silently this food park project was killed or an attempt was made to shut it down. I feel… it is bad for the credibility of the PM,” he said. He added the PM spoke in public and “it does not (help) his credibility if he goes back on it”.
Reminded of Rajnath’s assurance, Rahul retorted: “There is nothing hidden that one needs look into. Either the project will be approved or it will be terminated. But let’s see. Let’s give them some time.”