…in Gadchiroli, Rahul steers clear of issue

Rahul in Wardha on Friday. (PTI) Rahul in Wardha on Friday. (PTI)

It was supposedly a bid to allure people residing in Naxal stronghold towards Congress, but this did not turn out well for party vice-president Rahul Gandhi who was on Friday forced to abruptly end his speech amid a protest and people walking off the rally.

Rahul’s appeal, “Arre bhai zara ruko”, failed to stop a sizeable crowd, which waited for him for three hours but chose to leave the rally when he started making a speech. The Congress leader ended speech in the next sentence.

His address was also obstructed by engineering students from Nagpur University, who were shouting “we want justice” while protesting against the varsity.

During his speech, Rahul refrained from any remark on Maoism, and dubbed the BJP as “anti-poor” and the Congress “pro-poor”. Gadchiroli is one of the backward districts in Maharashtra with high poverty and Maoist activities.

He was addressing the election meeting for his party’s Lok Sabha nominee and sitting MLA Namdev Usendi.

Rahul started his speech by asking women attending the rally to be seated at the front. “We need to take women ahead… Women should be seated at the front in my rallies,” he said.

Attacking the BJP, the Congress leader listed UPA’s achievements such as MNREGA, RTI and Forest Rights Act to empower the poor. “These people (BJP) haven’t even once uttered the words ‘poor’ and ‘weak’. We do politics for the poor, tribals and weak. They do politics for industrialists,” Rahul said.

In an apparent reference to Narendra Modi, he said, “BJP is thinking (that) one man can change the country’s fortune… And we think poor, tribal and weaker sections can.”

“They (BJP) ask why we have spent so much on the poor. We have brought 15 crore above poverty line in ten years,” he added.