Taking potshots at Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused him of ignoring corruption in BJP-ruled states while harping on graft and trashed his “Congress free India” slogan, saying those who thought so themselves were wiped out.
Launching an offensive against BJP in the mining heartland of Bellary, Gandhi tore into the anti-grant plank of Modi, as he spoke about the “loot” of mine-rich region during BJP’s rule and the clout of Reddy brothers, who are mining barons.
“We will take strong action against the people in BJP who were involved in corruption in Bellary…” said Gandhi, for whom Bellary has a special significance as Sonia Gandhi had made her parliamentary debut in 1999 winning the seat against BJP’s Sushma Swaraj in a fiercely fought contest.
In an apparent dig at Reddy brothers — Janardhana and Karunakara — without naming them, the Congress Vice President said, “Those corrupt people who are in jail and corrupt practices will not be seen again…,”
Ignoring public opposition from Swaraj, BJP has admitted B Sriramulu — a one time close associate of Reddy brothers — into the party and fielded him as its candidate for Bellary, now represented by his sister Shanta.
Seeking to deflate anti-graft campaign of Modi, Gandhi without naming him said, “he is travelling across the country and speaking about corruption. He doesn’t see Yeddyurappa, who as Chief Minister had spent some time in jail. He doesn’t remember that, but goes around the country and talks about corruption.”
Gandhi said, “He (Modi) talks about corruption and says his party is against it, but when he is meeting in Karnataka one finds Yeddyurappa standing next to him.” He also did not see corruption in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, both ruled by BJP, but talks against corruption, he added.
At a rally in Mangalore, Gandhi hit out at Modi’s “Congress-mukht Bharat” slogan, saying, “They say Congress should be eradicated from India. Congress is a thought and an ideology that is very old. This ideology cannot be eradicated from India. One who wanted to eradicate it, they have been wiped out.”
Gandhi also said Congress wants to play the politics of love and brotherhood and defeat the political party playing politics of anger.
“They make a Hindu fight against a Muslim and a Christian. They also make people of Karnataka fight against Maharashtra. They want to see people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar out of Maharashtra. In Mangalore, they beat women,” he said.
The Mangalore remark was in the context of the 2009 attack on several girls at a pub allegedly by activists of right wing outfit Sri Ram Sene, known for its notorious moral policing.
“This is not our thought. Our thought is to take everybody together. We pursue the thought of love and brotherhood. And wherever we will meet them — who play politics of anger — we will fight them and defeat them,” he said.
Gandhi also blamed opposition for stalling five bills related to fighting corruption in Parliament, but promised their passage when Congress comes back to power.