Wrapping up the last leg of his Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra at diamond-polishing hub of Varachha in Surat, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday called the BJP government at both the Centre and in Gujarat “suit-boot wali sarkar”. The irony may not have been lost on the crowd, as the diamond baron who bought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monogrammed suit for over Rs 4 crore in 2015 comes from Surat — Modi wore it during his meeting with former US President Barack Obama that year.
In a jibe at the Prime Minister, who addresses Mann Ki Baat radio programme every month, Rahul said, “I have come here not to say that we will not tell you our mann ki baat if the Congress forms the next government in Gujarat. (I am saying) we will listen to your mann ki baat.”
Rahul began his address at Varachha, a Patidar-dominated area, with the now-popular Patel agitation slogan “Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar”, and followed it up with “Jai Bhavani”. The crowd responded with “Bhajap javani” (BJP is going)”.
Earlier, addressing a rally in Pardi town of Valsad district, Rahul said, “Today Modiji and BJP have everything. They are in power at the Centre (and in) Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh…. They have a lot of strength. But I want to tell you that the Congress will win the election in Gujarat because truth is with the Congress. Try as much as as you like, you do not have truth with you…. The change will begin from Gujarat.”
Assuring the crowd that if the Congress comes to power in Gujarat it would redress the issues of GST and bring about reforms, Rahul promised to return to Surat next week – not to address a public meeting but to visit textile and diamond factories, and meet traders.
“The truth of Gujarat is that education and healthcare are expensive, and the poor cannot afford them; that in Gujarat the Patidars were shot by bullets, Dalits were flogged in Una and people in all sectors of the economy are unhappy and are agitating. The Gujarat government is not of the poor but of five or 10 industrialists: this is a suit-boot wali sarkar in Gujarat.”
In Pardi, Rahul said that in 2007, the Gujarat CM had promised schemes worth Rs 15,000 crore for tribals. “Five years later, the money was given. In 2012, he promised to give Rs 40,000 crore. Five more years have passed, and no money has been given,” he said. Modi was CM until 2014.