With polling day in Pune exactly two weeks away, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed multiple election rallies in the city on Tuesday and took on Congress president Rahul Gandhi over the latter’s promises of poverty alleviation. Pune goes to polls on April 23, in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
Fadnavis, who addressed rallies at Vadgaon Sheri and Nana Peth, claimed that Gandhi, who visited the city last week, had “failed to answer queries on how his party would implement assurances about poverty alleviation given in the Congress manifesto”.
“I don’t know why the Congress chief is not ashamed of talking about poverty alleviation. His great grandfather had made that announcement, then it was his grandmother, his father and his mother, but they failed to do so (alleviate poverty). Instead, poverty increased in the country during their rule,” Fadnavis said.
The CM took a further dig at Gandhi by using the disclaimer used by some TV serials, about the story being fictional. “The same warning will soon start appearing on TV before Rahul’s speeches. The channels will state that they will not be responsible if anyone trusts the speeches made by the Congress chief. These speeches are shown for entertainment,” he said.
Questioning the Congress’s Nyuntam Aay Yojana, or NYAY scheme, Fadnavis claimed the party has not been able to explain how it will fulfill its promise of giving Rs 72,000 per year, or Rs 6,000 per month, to the poorest sections of society if it came to power. Accusing Gandhi of making “false assurances”, Fadnavis said, “The Congress has only alleviated the poverty of their leaders, not of the poor people of the country”.
The Chief Minister also claimed that the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections were about the “self-esteem of the country”. “It is not only about poverty alleviation or development, but about who will ensure the security of the nation…,” he said.
Citing the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Fadnavis said the then Congress-led government at the Centre had “merely condemned Pakistan”. “The then government could have warned Pakistan with action, but didn’t do so. Things changed only after the Narendra Modi government came to power and gave a befitting reply to Pakistan with surgical strikes,” said Fadnavis.
“We are among the select countries that have attacked terrorists on foreign soil, and given a befitting reply,” said the chief minister. He claimed that while defence forces always sought permission from the political leadership to attack terrorists in their own way, they never received it in the past. The Modi government, however, gave them a free hand, he said.
Fadnavis also claimed that the Congress manifesto sought to “give a free hand to terrorist activities in Jammu Kashmir by clipping the powers of defence forces”. “I wonder if the manifesto is of the Congress or that of the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed,” said the CM.