Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that cobbling up a broader alliance of the Opposition parties to defeat the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was a sentiment of the people.
“It is the sentiment of the people and not just political parties that are opposed to the BJP to have a mahagatbandhan (grand alliance) that can take on the Prime Minister, the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,” Rahul said in Mumbai, on the last day of his two-day tour to Maharashtra.
“People are faced with the question on how to stop the attack on the Constitution and institutions in the country. The Congress is working to give a voice to this expression,” Rahul said, while addressing mediamen on Wednesday morning.
Continuing to label the government as being pro-rich and anti-poor, Rahul further said, “The price of crude had touched $140 a barrel during the UPA days, which has now come down to $70 a barrel. Yet the retail prices of petrol and diesel are constantly on the rise in Mumbai. The question then is where has the money saved on crude imports gone? Why are the benefits not being passed onto the common man. The answer is that the money is sitting in the pockets of 15-20 richest people. The government is pinching the pockets of the poor for a ‘direct cash transfer’ to the ultra-rich.”
He added, “The Congress and other opposition parties have been asking the Prime Minister to bring petrol and diesel under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax, but he is not interested in it. There was an attack on Mumbai (through demonetisation). There are a lot of small-scale industries and traders here.”
He said, “There is the garment and the leather industry. They have been targeted through the ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’. Everyone is sad. The small businessman is angry. We are fighting for them.”
But Wednesday’s media interaction appeared to have boomeranged on the Congress. Late Tuesday evening, the Mumbai unit of the Congress had circulated a text message to media houses stating that Rahul would be interacting with the print and television media at the Mumbai Cricket Association Club in Bandra Kurla Complex around 8.30 am.
After arriving 45 minutes late for the scheduled interaction, Rahul left after taking just one question and briefing the press for just 2.47 minutes, leaving the mediamen fuming.