Beginning the second leg of his Navsarjan Yatra in poll-bound Gujarat, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit various districts of the state on Monday. Starting with Ahmedabad, Rahul traveled through Kheda, Dedarda village and finally reached to his last stop in Vadodara.
Rahul Gandhi’s first phase of Navsarjan Yatra ended on September 29. During his three-day roadshow in the state, Gandhi visited Dwarka, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Jetpur and other cities. He addressed rallies and made stops at many villages to interact with the locals. Gandhi came under fire from the Opposition for visiting temples during the yatra.
Here are the highlights of Rahul Gandhi’s Gujarat visit:
9:45 pm: BJP has done a great favour to me by abusing, attacking and defeating me in 2014; taught me a lesson
9:40 pm: “My family -my grandmother, father have told me that hatred eats you.” Recounting Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Gandhi said he felt pained when he saw the dead body of his father and that he called his sister Priyanka to share his thoughts with her. Priyanka told him that she felt the pain too. ” People may call us foolish, stupid, but we understand what pain is.”
9:39 pm: “Both BJP and Congress are parties of India’s ideologies; Will never say that I want to finish BJP from the country. I will fight BJP, but never not respect their existence as it is an ideology from India; so is the Congress” Gandhi said.
9:35 pm: Talking about his US visit he said: I met students on my US visit, they were from my mother’s country. They had been to China to teach English. Chinese govt has a program to allow Europeans to teach languages. We need to see what our competitors are doing
9.28 pm: I showed the SPG chief a drone and told him that it can be a security threat. 15 days later it was banned. Everyday innovation is stifled in India due to bureaucracy. The business of drones has suffered by ban. You try to do something new, 50 people will pull you back, Gandhi said.
9.26 pm: Lashing out at the government for its policies like demonetisation Gandhi said, “Vajpayeeji had called Rajiv Gandhi ‘mad’, when he introduced computers; but a leader has to be visionary. When telecom revolution happened, no one was hurt; it was due to strategic thinking. You cannot implement a policy forcefully in a day.” Talking about the need for a healthcare reform in the country, Congress v-p said, “India will dominate the healthcare sector of the world, with the biggest data bank.”
9.19 pm: “India cannot be made cashless immediately; it has to be effected smoothly,” Gandhi said.
9.15 pm: All governments must address the issue of employment. Gandhi said, all Indian governments, including Congress, has to focus on employment; Congress record is better than BJP with jobs. “Employment should be discussed; we discuss only religion and social anger.” Excuses won’t work when it comes to jobs. If the government does not employ 30,000-40,000 people daily in the next five to ten years, then no one will be able to control the anger that will spread.
9.09 pm: “Gujarat govt is privatising every sector; neglecting public sector, especially education,” Gandhi said. He also said that in the coming days, competition for employment is between India and China. The social anger manifesting itself as religious, casteist or linguistic anger is due to unemployment. In India every 24 hrs 30,000 youth come to job market but government is able to give employment to 450, Chinese government gives it to 50,000 daily
8:59 pm: The conversation with the traders is mostly revolving around GST, its implementation and implication. “Does it worry you that the govt will interfere in your businesses through GST?” Gandhi asked.
8:54 pm: “Congress party started MNREGA; economists attacked us. Later, they told me MNREGA boosted rural economy,” Gandhi said. “BJP does extreme things; but Congress has also not focused on small businesses perfectly, I must admit.”
8:50 pm: Gandhi is in Vadodara, his last stop today. Interacting with businessmen and traders he said, “Any economic reform has to be tested with a response from people; law and taxes have to be evolved. We had told the govt to take GST slowly to the people by testing it; but Jaitley ji was not in the mood.” He also said that if petrol and diesel prices are brought under the ambit of GST, the prices of fuel will come down. Taking a dig at the ruling party, the Congress leader said, “You cannot run this country by cruelty; compassion (Karuna) is the key. If you don’t listen to people in a country like India, you will hurt them; govt must hear. It benefits.”
5:54 pm: Targeting PM Modi-led-NDA government on loans, Gandhi said, “Modi govt’s new model is a model for industrialists. Loans given to poor is their right, not a gift. In case the Congress comes to power, we will give loans to the poor, farmers, women, who Modi govt ignores.”
5.50 pm: Rahul Gandhi who is in Dedarda village in Anand interacted with women from milk cooperatives. One of the women asked Rahul Gandhi, “If farmer loans can be waived off, why not of women milk cooperatives?”
Gandhi when replying o a question about banks not disbursing loans to women of milk cooperatives said that the banking system in the country, loans are given to only few 10 to 15 industrialists.
3.38 pm: Continuing his attack against PM Modi, Gandhi said that when PM says that nothing has happened in the past 70 years, he is not questioning the Congress party, but the people of this country. Whatever progress India has been able to achieve it is not because of some party or politician but because of the people of this country.
2:40 pm: Gandhi also visited the birth place of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Kheda.
2.25 pm: During Congress’ rally at Mandi on Saturday, Rahul declared CM Virbhadra Singh as the party’s next chief ministerial face for the poll-bound state. Rahul showered praise on Virbhadra, terming him a champion of Himachal’s development, which he said surpassed Modi’s “Gujarat model” in facts, figures and visibility. “You say (Virbhadra) Raja nahin faqir hai… I say Virbhadra Singh has put his heart and soul in taking development to every nook and corner of the state. He has measured every inch of these mountains and terrains in chappals (shoes). The six-time Chief Minister will now be a seventh-time CM. He enjoys the backing of the party,” Rahul announced.
2.00 pm: Union Minister Giriraj Singh targeted Rahul Gandhi on Sunday by saying he does not have knowledge of the history or geography of the country. “Like film actors, Rahul is fond of reading written scripts. He does not have knowledge of history and geography of India,” Singh, the minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises, told reporters. Singh claimed that the opposition did not have any issues left and accused Rahul Gandhi of falsely claiming in foreign countries that job opportunities had decreased in the country. “The reality is that under the PM Mudra scheme, 9 crore persons have got jobs,” Singh said.
1.40 pm: Rahul is expected to take over as the party’s president by the end of this month. The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee on Saturday passed a resolution urging Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party president. The DPCC passed another resolution authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president to nominate the president of the party’s Delhi unit. All the state units have been asked to complete the election exercise by October 10. Ever since Sonia Gandhi took over as the president nearly two decades ago, the party has not seen elections in the true sense at any level.
1.15 pm: During the first phase of Navsarjan Yatra, Gandhi engaged in some symbolism and tried to portray himself as an approachable leader before the crowd. He rode a bullock cart, sat on a dholiya (a traditional charpoy) had tea in a tansali (a utensil made of brass and bronze) with the family of a Congress leader, and closely interacted with villagers and sarpanches.
12.55 pm: Mocking PM Modi’s monthly radio address to the nation Mann ki Baat, the Congress vice-president said, “Hum apko apne mann ki baat nahi batayenge, hum apki mann ki baat sunenge (We won’t tell you how we feel, we will listen to what you have to say.)
12.35 pm: Demanding a clarification, the official Twitter handle of Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Modi ji, Jay Shah-jada’ kha gaya. Aap chowkidaar the ya bhaagidaar, kuch to boliye (Modi ji, Amit Shah’s son has eaten a lot. Are you a gatekeeper or a partner, at least say something).” The tweet is in reference to a media report that said the turnover of a company owned by BJP president Amit Shah’s son increased 16,000 times in the year following the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and the elevation of Shah to the post of party president. By referring to Shah’s son as “shah-zada”, Rahul also countered Modi’s repeated jibes of calling him as shahzada or crown prince.
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12.15 pm: Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said, “Gujarat knows that Narendra Modi’s Gujarat Model has failed.” “Gujarat mein vikaas ko kya hua? Ye kaise pagal hua? Ye jhooth sun sun ke pagal ho gaya hai (What happened to development in Gujarat? Lies have led to its failure,” he added.
11.55 am: Rahul Gandhi is now addressing a public meeting in Kheda. “If Congress comes to power here, it will function as your government. Even small decisions will be taken after consulting you,” he said, while addressing the people.
11.40 am: Gandhi is scheduled to depart for Kheda district from Ahmedabad. In Kheda, Gandhi will first address a corner meeting at Khatraj Chokdi. He will then meet Amul Plant workers in Jibhaipura, following which he is scheduled to visit Santram Mandir and hold another corner meeting at Nadiad.
11.20 am: The Congress vice president has reached Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, where he was greeted by Congress spokesperson and MLA from Abdasa constituency, Shaktisinh Gohil. Gandhi will now proceed to Hathijan Circle, where he will be welcomed by party workers.
11.10 am: Rahul Gandhi’s itinerary for today includes a meeting with Amul Plant workers in Kheda, an interaction with representatives of Mahila Milk Cooperatives in Anand and one with traders, entrepreneurs and professionals in Vadodara. He is also scheduled to visit Sardar Patel’s birthplace, Nadiad.