Mounting a scathing attack on the Congress and Gandhis for “hating” Gujarat and Gujaratis and treating them as “irritants in the eye”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set the tone for the BJP campaign in assembly elections in the state, saying the party’s impressive showing in Uttar Pradesh had made “political pundits” tell the Opposition “give 2019 to Modi, start focusing on 2024”.
Describing the assembly elections as a fight between “vikasvaad” (development) of the BJP and “vanshvaad” (dynasty) of the Congress, Modi told a huge gathering of party ‘page pramukh’ that the Congress, while in power at the Centre, tried its best to jail him after sending Amit Shah behind bars — Shah was arrested in July 2010 in connection with the Sohrabuddin encounter case.
“Mai jab Mukhya Mantri tha, aapke paas poore Hindustan ki sultanat thi. Kaise kaise shadyantra kiye. Mujhe jail me dalne ke liye aapne tay kiya tha. Jab tak Amit Shah ko jail mei nahin dalenge, Modi tak pahunch nahin payenge. Aur aaj dekh liya, sach kaise ubhar ke aa gaya (When I was Chief Minister, you were ruling all of Hindustan. All kinds of conspiracies were hatched. You decided to jail me. Amit Shah was jailed because you wanted to get to Modi. Now see, how the truth has emerged),” he said.
To boost party morale in the run-up to the assembly election — dates for which are still to be announced — Modi said: “Jab Uttar Pradesh ke chunav ke results aaye thhe, tabhi desh ke political pandito ne bol diya tha ki vipaksh ko 2019 ki taiyyari chhod deni chahiye aur 2024 ke liye lag jaana chahiye. 2019 Modi ko de do, 2024 pe lag jao (When the UP results came in, political pundits said the Opposition should forget about 2019 and start preparing for 2024. Give 2019 to Modi, start focusing on 2024).”
Targeting the Gandhis, Modi said the Congress was “anti-Gujarat”, irrespective of the party to which a Gujarati leader belonged.
“Is parivar ko Gujarat hamesha aankh me chubhta raha hai. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is party ne, is parivar ne, unke saath kya kiya ye itihaas gawah hai… Maniben Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ki beti, uske saath kya vyavahar kiya, itihaas gawah hai (Gujarat has always been an irritant in the eye for this family. History is witness to what did they did to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his daughter Maniben Patel).”
“When our Morarjibhai Desai, who was from Gujarat, became Prime Minister, this group spread stories about what he drinks and what he does not drink. They never let people know about his work, his efforts, his farsightedness, his devotion to the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi… They do not like Gujarat.”
Referring to former Gujarat Chief Minister and Foreign Minister Madhavsinh Solanki’s alleged role during the uproar over the Bofors scandal, Modi said: “Madhavsinh Solanki got maximum seats for the Congress. He was Foreign Minister at the Centre when he was sent with a letter. He stepped out to save this family. And when the time came, they took Madhavsinh’s resignation to save that family.”
“Inhone Gujarat ko nafrat ki, Jana Sangh ko nafrat ki, BJP ko nafrat ki. Inhone hame kabhi qaumvaadi kaha, kabhi Gandhiji ka hatyara kaha, kabhi hame unch varna ka kah diya. Har baar nai gaali dena. Lekin ek bhi aarop ham par chipka nahi (They hated Gujarat, hated Jan Sangh, hated BJP. They called us communal. They called us the killer of Gandhi. They said we belong to the upper caste. Everytime, a new abuse. But not a single charge turned out to be true),” he said.
“They used to say that we are anti-Dalits. Today, we have maximum Dalit MPs. They said we are anti-tribals. Today, we have maximum tribal MPs… They said BJP is an urban party. Today, we have maximum farmer MPs. They said BJP is a party of ‘savarnas’. Today, we have maximum OBC MPs. Since nothing is left now, they have abused vikas (development) itself,” Modi said.
He said the Congress did not allow completion of the Sardar Sarovar Project for years because it was first conceptualised by Sardar Patel.
On the vikas-has-gone-crazy campaign on social media mocking development claims of the BJP in Gujarat, Modi said: “Vikas ke naam par Congress kabhi lad nahi sakti (Congress can never fight in the name of development).”
“Today, I am again throwing them a challenge to fight elections on the issue of development. But don’t defame development,” he said. “These people have looted this country. Who will save the middle class? For me, country is above the party… And people need to understand what this is.”
“Yeh chunaav, vikasvaad ka jung hai. Unke liye vanshvaad ka jung hai. Aur vikasvaad ka vijay honewala hai (This election is a battle for development. For them, it is a battle for dynasty. Development is going to win).”
Taking on the Congress for running down the Goods and Services Tax regime, Modi said: “All political parties of this country, including Congress, and the central government take collective decisions on GST. Parliament does not take a decision on GST, governments of all political parties do that. It includes Congress governments in Punjab and Meghalaya. Central government forms only the 30th part of the entire council that takes decisions on GST. So, Congress does not have the right to spread lies on GST because they are partners in the decisions on GST.”
Meanwhile, the Vijay Rupani government has reached out to an estimated 25 lakh farmers in Gujarat, announcing “zero-interest” crop loans to farmers.
It also announced parole for jail inmates who are 60 years old or more in view of the Diwali festivities.
Making the “zero-interest” crop loan announcement at the Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan at Gandhinagar, Chief Minister Rupani said farmers in the state get Rs 3 lakh loan at an interest rate of seven per cent. Of this, the farmer has to pay only one per cent as interest cost, while three per cent is paid by the Centre and the remaining three per cent is absorbed by the state government. “From now on, this one per cent interest rate too will be borne by the state government. Farmers will not have to pay any interest,” he said.
On the move that is expected to cost the state exchequer an extra Rs 700 crore, Rupani said the government has thrown open its treasury to benefit farmers. This announcement comes three weeks after he announced that the state will procure groundnut at Rs 900 per 20 kg against the market price of Rs 600-650 per kg.