After days of campaigning by sister Priyanka Gandhi in Amethi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday addressed the voters in the region for the first time after filing his nomination papers. The Gandhi scion continued his attack on BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi, and took on his rivals, claiming they would never be seen after polls.
Without naming Smriti Irani or Kumar Vishwas, Rahul slammed his rivals, saying “people come and go, but I will give my whole life to Amethi”. He said that his opponents would not be seen in Amethi even a day after the polling was over. “Only Sonia ji, Priyanka and I will be there for you,” he said.
Attacking BJP and Narendra Modi over election expenditure, Rahul alleged that corporates were pumping money into the saffron party’s campaign and asked it come clean on the source of funds.
“They (BJP) do politics of two-three corporates as they gift them ‘mota paisa’ (hefty money). From where is the money for big cutouts and posters coming,” Gandhi, who arrived in his constituency for a two-day campaign, said at an election rally.
“Please ask BJP where do they get crores of rupees for such posters. Is it Modi’s money?…. They ask us why we give free money to poor through MNREGA, food guarantee scheme. Poor does not get free money. They work for it whereas free funds are given to Adani,” he said.
“I am not against corporates. But they should be given facilities following rules and regulations. In Gujarat, it was Adani who is getting facilities and not the poor”, Gandhi added.
He further accused the opposition of indulging in politics of anger and hatred, pointing that he “never gets angry” as he believes in “politics of love”. “Did I ever get angry or abuse anyone”, he said addressing voters in Amethi.
During his speech, Rahul again raked up the Modi-Adani row, accusing the Gujarat Chief Minister of giving to the industrialist more than what the UPA had spent on MNREGA. He also alleged that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate plays politics for selected industrialists. “On the other hand we want to benefit all industrialists”, he said further.
Describing the elections as a fight between two ideologies, Gandhi said that while Congress wanted to take Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians along, the other side was stoking politics of “anger”.
“Their (BJP) leaders used to criticise, abuse and keep poor at bay while we (Congress) talk of unity and to take country forward,” Gandhi said. “The difference it that they want to keep the ATM with themselves, while we want to give the ATM to the poor”, he added.
“They want to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims and want to see them fighting. They want brother to fight against brother, unlike us”, he said. Hitting out at his opponents, Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas and BJP’s Smriti Irani, Gandhi said they would run away from Amethi after elections. Without taking the names of rival candidates, he said the people who come from outside are angry at the relations that Gandhi family shares with the people of Amethi.
“Let Congress form the government at the centre, I will show them what can be done in Amethi….People who come from outside can say whatever they like but Gandhi family shares a relation of love with people of Amethi. They will not be seen once elections are over,” he said.
“I have family relations with Amethi. I came here at the age of 12 years with my father (Rajiv Gandhi). I don’t have political relation with this place,” Gandhi said striking an emotional chord.
“Some persons come here, tear posters, throw stones, abuse and return. They did not come here for next five years. I am here for my lifetime,” Gandhi said.
In a veiled reference to snoopgate, Gandhi said,”Some posters of Modi say women will be empowered under his government. Don’t women have power? They already have power, give them respect and rest they will do themselves.”
Amethi Parliamentary seat, which is the pocketborough of Gandhi family, will go to polls on May 7 and the campaigning will come to an end on May 5 when the BJP prime ministerial candidate is scheduled to campaign for Irani.
Gandhi said while Congress stands for the politics of cohesiveness, BJP is dividing people on the religious lines.
“We have given food security programme under which poor people can get food grains at Rs one per kg. The Uttar Pradesh government is yet to implement it but they will have to do it,” the Congress Vice-President said.
He said it is the opposition which had challenged assured 24-hour electricity supply to Rai Bareli and Amethi in the court. “It shows that they have no love for you,” he said.
Gandhi said Modi has given 45,000 acres of fertile land to Adani. “Farmers’ come to us for and complain that their land has been taken. Sikh farmers came to us and said their land has been taken and they were asked to leave the place as they did not belong to Gujarat,” he said.
“We are building an industrial corridor from New Delhi to Kolkata where industrialists will be given lands to develop manufacturing hub. But this should be based on a partnership with farmers and poor people so that they can also grow,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)