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No mention of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav as Rahul Gandhi starts Bihar campaign

Rahul said that if the BJP govt came to power here, two-three people from Gujarat and Delhi wearing expensive suits will come and claim the land asking for removal farmers from there.

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Launching the Congress’s Bihar Assembly election campaign at Champaran, vice-president Rahul Gandhi made barely any mention of the party’s Grand Alliance, and no mention at all of its partners Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, both of whom stayed away from the rally.

Instead, Rahul kept his focus on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his “suit-boot ki sarkar” during his entire 23-minute speech.

Champaran was chosen for its links to Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha, while the banners at the rally highlighted the fact that 2015 marked the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar.

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Rahul drew on both in his speech. “On one extreme, there was Gandhi, who first shed his coat and pant, then shirt, and took to dhoti.

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Modiji talks of his chaiwallah background but talks only with those wearing suit and boot. If the BJP comes to power in Bihar, people in suit and boot will come from Delhi and Gujarat and ask for your land,” he said, adding that the Congress had managed to stall the BJP’s amendments on the land acquisition Act.

While the rally was well-attended, much of the enthusiasm and at least some of the numbers appeared to have dissipated by the time Rahul got up to address the rally after the long speeches of Congress leaders Meira Kumar and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Rahul cautioned people against “attempt to cause communal tension” during elections. “Beware of any attempt by the RSS and BJP to pit one religion against another, as it had attempted in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the last Lok Sabha polls,” he said.

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In his brief mention of the Grand Alliance, comprising the Congress, JD(U) and RJD, Rahul said it would give a Rs 4 lakh credit facility to students.

Tejashwi Yadav, who represented the RJD at the rally, said it was Rahul and he who were the real youth leaders — the “yuvaon ke yuva”. “How can Modiji talk of being yuva at his age?… Beware of the thugs and the sweet-talkers.”

Talking about Lalu, Tejashwi, who is set to get a ticket this time, said, “My father was instrumental in getting the poor social justice and a voice. We will talk of economic justice with social justice this time.”

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JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP K C Tyagi, who stood in for Nitish, attacked BJP West Champaran MP and Union minister Radha Mohan Singh of attributing farmers’ suicides to “love affairs and impotence”, in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. “Your MP cannot see farmers are burdened with loan. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar started an over Rs 1,000-crore scheme for Dalit empowerment.”

Modifying an old joke about a conversation between a boatman and a “suited-booted man”, Rahul said the Modi government had not been discussing employment with youths and farmers’ issue with farmers. “Modiji claims to have started as a tea-seller, he went on to don kurta-pyjama and also wore a Rs 15 lakh suit. What about two crore job generation every year and what about Rs 15 lakh in accounts?”

He added, “I met many farmers, but not one approved their land acquisition Bill. Your land is worth gold and be assured we will not allow anyone to take away your land.”

Rahul targeted BJP-ruled states on the same line, saying the Rajasthan government had gone in for privatisation of hospitals, “leaving the poor stranded”. “Chhattisgarh has a PDS scam and Rs 1,000 crore was swindled. Madhya Pradesh has the Vyapam scam. The Modi government is defending Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj over Lalit Modi.”

He raised the fact that Modi had promised to get sugar mills to the region during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign. “Now he is PM but did any sugar mill come here?”

First published on: 20-09-2015 at 12:00:32 am
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