Updated: October 9, 2014 10:25:00 am
After BJP, it was the Congress’ turn to appropriate the legacy of Maratha king Shivaji as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi chose the low-profile yet historically significant constituency of Mahad in Raigad district to launch his campaign for the Assembly polls.
Addressing his first rally at Mahad, home to Raigad fort, capital of Shivaji’s empire, Rahul said the NDA government was reversing UPA government’s pro-poor policies. “We changed an old legislation that allowed industrialists to grab land belonging to the poor so that farmers get right price for their land. The ruling party has now made gradual changes to the legislation,” said Rahul, adding that the present government was diluting many other pro-poor laws.
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of facilitating free trade for US-based pharmaceutical firms at the cost of making life-saving drugs unaffordable for the poor. “Cancer medication that cost Rs 8000 now costs over Rs 1 lakh. The rich can afford treatment for cancer or diabetes in private hospitals. The poor will stand to lose,” he said. He also spoke of the Congress-led state government’s role in providing drought relief and waiving farm loans and farm power bills. “That is the kind of government we run,” he said.
Rahul flayed PM Modi for his ‘tall claims’ about relations with Pakistan and China as part of his LS poll campaign. “Our PM was sitting on a swing with the Chinese president while Chinese soldiers made incursions into India. Over the past few days, Pakistan has been firing from across the border, leaving our soldiers dead,” he said. Referring to Modi’s recent campaigns, he added, “Their marketing strategy is good. They sweep with a broom and the entire nation gets to see it. When the Chinese soldiers came in, no one heard about it.”
Interestingly, Rahul constantly referred to Modi as vipaksh ke neta (opposition leader) in his speech. While Rahul did not mention Congress leader Narayan Rane, he praised Prithviraj Chavan. “Chavan is a clean politician who does good work, but does not go about marketing it,” he said.
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