As the Gujarat poll campaign drew to an end on Tuesday, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi claimed that there was a “zabardast (tremendous) undercurrent” against the BJP, and the results would be “zabardast.” Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul said: “Modiji pehle corruption par bolte thay, lekin jab Jay Shah ka mamla aya, Rafale jet ka mamla aya, toh corruption par bolna bandh kar diya (Modiji used to talk about corruption. But ever since the Jay Shah and Rafale jet issues surfaced, he has stopped talking about corruption).”
Addressing a press conference here, he said Modi has also stopped talking about education, hospitals and farmers’ issues. “Yeh mood mein change sirf Modi mein hi nahin hai. Yeh Rupani mein bhi hai, aur poori BJP mein hai (It is not just Modi who has undergone this change in mood. There is a change in mood in Rupani too, and the entire BJP),” he said.
“Mood yahan par bilkul badla hua hai… zabardast undercurrent hai. Dekhna, yahan par zabardast badlav aane wala hai. Result zabardast aane wala hai. BJP ghabaraee huyee hai, yeh pehli baar dekha hai ki sabhi agitation par hain… Patidar, OBC, Adivasi, Dalit, kisan, sab agitation par hain… Political mahaul bilkul badla hua hai. Aur mujhe vishwas hai ki hum jitenge (There is a complete change in mood… there is a tremendous undercurrent. A tremendous change is about to come. The result will be tremendous… The BJP is worried, for the first time, everyone is agitating. Patidar, OBC, Adivasi, Dalit, farmers, everyone has launched an agitation… There is a change in the political atmosphere. And I am confident that we will win),” said Rahul.
He said the Congress, for the first time in 22 years, had realised its strength in Gujarat. “Congress party ek saath khadi ho gayee hai, united hai, aur BJP ko challenge kar rahi hai (The Congress party has stood up together, is united and has challenged the BJP),” he said. “Even the BJP has accepted that the Congress is fighting the elections with full strength and a good strategy.”
He said the winter session of Parliament was delayed this year because Modi was afraid of discussions on Jay Shah and the Rafale deal. “But the people of Gujarat are very intelligent. They understand everything. They know why the BJP is not talking about corruption and farmers’ issues,” he said.
Stating that elections are fought on certain basic issues and political narratives, Rahul said: “A party whose narrative does not change and remains consistent wins the elections. But if you look at the BJP, they were not able to maintain their narrative and frequently changed it, from Narmada, to development, to OBC, to corruption etc.’’
Responding to a question on Mani Shanker Aiyar’s use of the word “neech’’ while referring to Modi, Rahul said he had made his position clear through “words as well as action”. “I have made it clear through my action that I am not going to tolerate the way he spoke about Modi, because Modi is the Prime Minister. But Modi’s comments about Manmohan Singh are also not acceptable. He (Manmohan) was the Prime Minister, he has also worked and sacrificed for the country,” said Rahul.
“Modiji is my political opponent… He has been using offensive language against me. Lekin mere muh se un ke baare mein koi galat shabd nahin niklega (But I will not utter any offensive word against him),” said Rahul. “I want to change the nature of political discourse in the country. It has become nasty, ugly. I want to do politics with love,” he said.
Asked about his temple visits — he visited the Jagannath temple at Jamalpur in Ahmedabad on Tuesday — Rahul said he also went to Kedarnath in Uttarakhand. “It is the BJP’s story that I visited temples in Gujarat only. On my political tour of Gujarat, wherever I got a chance, I visited temples. I felt very happy. I prayed for a golden future for Gujarat and its people, for better development,” he said.
While he did not respond to questions on Modi’s allegation about Pakistan’s involvement in the Gujarat elections, Rahul directed a question on the Patidar quota issue to state party president Bharatsinh Solanki.
Asked about Modi’s flight in a seaplane, Rahul said: “It is good. If he wants, he can fly in a seaplane. But the issue is elections in Gujarat. The main issue is not seaplanes. It is a distraction… The main issue is what the BJP has done for Gujarat in 22 years. Are there doctors in hospitals? Are there schools and colleges for the poor? Modi should speak on Jay Shah and Rafale deal.”
Rahul alleged that under the BJP, Gujarat has seen “one-sided development”. “Only 5-10 people have benefitted during 22 years of Modi-Rupani rule, the common man has got nothing. Over 90 per cent of colleges are in the private sector. You have to pay Rs 10-15 lakh to get admission in engineering and medical colleges. A poor or middle-class student can’t dream of becoming an engineer or doctor,” he said.
Terming demonetisation and GST as “irrational economic policy’’, he said the Congress, if elected, would waive farm loans, raise the minimum support price(MSP) of agriculture produce, appoint doctors and nurses in government hospitals, and help youth in education and employment. “We will take all decisions by consulting the people of Gujarat. We will not take any unilateral decision,” he said.