Countering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation that the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family hate people of Gujarat and have done injustice towards them, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said his family’s political guru Mahatma Gandhi was a Gujarati whose thinking they have imbibed. He also dubbed the allegation as “the BJP’s style of distorting facts”. Interacting with The Indian Express on a special vehicle for mediapersons covering his campaign in Gujarat, Rahul said: My family’s political guru Mahatma Gandhi was a Gujarati. We have imbibed it fundamentally and shared it. And, it is Gujarati thinking. We do not look at the state, but the person. Gujarat has given India a lot of strength — whether it is Sardar Vallabhbahi Patel or Gandhiji. It’s a fact, but BJP has a style of distorting facts.”
In a surprise move, Rahul joined mediapersons in their special vehicle and spent around 15 minutes with them during his Gujarat Navsarjan Yatra in north Gujarat districts of Patan and Mehsana. On October 17, Modi addressing a huge gathering of BJP workers at Bhat village of Gandhinagar had said: “Gujarat has always been an irritant in the eyes of this family (Nehru-Gandhi family). History is witness to what did they did to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his daughter Maniben Patel.” He had also alleged that the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family had done injustice to other leaders from Gujarat like Morarji Desai and Madhavsinh Solanki.
On the concluding day of the fourth and last leg of his Navsarjan Yatra, Rahul was given a grand reception by the Patidars in Mehsana town, the epicentre of the quota agitation, in the evening. Earlier in the day, he campaigned at several places in Patan and Mehsana districts, bastions of BJP. “I have been roaming in the entire country. I have not seen any state where so many people are doing andolan — the Patidars, the Dalits, the adivasis, ASHA workers and government employees. Only 5-10 industrialists are not doing andolan, they get what they want directly. You know who they are,” said Rahul at a public meeting at Bechraji in Mehsana after visiting temple of Goddess Bechraji. PAAS leader Narendra Patel, who has recently alleged that BJP leaders offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party, was also seen with Rahul in Bechraji.
Addressing the Patidars who had gathered on the road to greet him in Mehsana town, Rahul said, “The BJP government has fired bullets at you, they have hit you with sticks , they have committed atrocities on you. The Congress government will be the one to bring change.” At a gathering of Patidar women, he said quota agitation leader Hardik Patel was fighting for their cause. After starting his journey by visiting the temple of Veer Meghmaya in Patan, Rahul went to UNESCO world heritage site of Ran ki Vav in Patan before holding an interaction with a group of Dalits there.
During the day, the Congress leader visited a number of villages in Patan and Mehsana such as Kungher, Adav, Boratwada and Harij. At many places he held corner meetings with the locals and attacked various policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially demonetisation and GST. Rahul attacked the ruling BJP on issues like the row over significant jump in the turnover of Jay Shah’s company and unemployment. The Congress vice-president also held informal talks with people of various groups like nomadic and denotified tribes, school children, farmers and women.
He addressed a gathering at Visnagar in Mehsana where the Patidar quota agitation had first became violent with the attack on the office of local BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel in July 2015. In his address, Rahul said it was the BJP government that fired bullets at their “(Patidars’) children”. “What kind of government is this which gets its own people killed?” he asked the gathering.