A day after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi campaigned in Punjab, her brother and party chief Rahul picked up from where she left by sharpening the attack on SAD-BJP alliance in the state. Rahul held two rallies in Punjab Wednesday — the first in Bargari, the epicentre of the desecration protests that falls in Faridkot constituency, and the other in the state’s industrial town Ludhiana. While in Bargari he vowed strict action against culprits of desecration cases, he went all out to woo the state’s businessman and small industrialists in Ludhiana.
Speaking at Dussehra Grounds in Mullanpur to seek votes for Ludhiana candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of former Punjab CM Beant Singh, Rahul said: “Small and medium businesses of Ludhiana have been finished and devastated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What was demonetisation? Wo ek financial paagalpan tha (It was a financial madness). PM destroyed and finished the economy of this country.. He finished small and medium businessmen in city like Ludhiana which holds potential to generate employment for entire country… Modi wants to finish small and medium businessmen in entire country so that 10-15 rich industrialists can get all profit and benefit but he cannot forget that it is small businessmen who are the spine of this country.”
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He added that without Ludhiana’s small and medium industry, India cannot challenge China’s supremacy in manufacturing sector. “Without support of Ludhiana, India cannot challenge China. Without ‘Made in Ludhiana, India cannot challenge ‘Made In China’,” he said.
Rahul further said that NYAY scheme as proposed in the Congress manifesto will help the poor and also revive small and medium businesses and shopkeepers. “Sabse bada fayda NYAY ka Ludhiana ko hoga.. (Ludhiana will benefit the most from NYAY),” he said.
The Congress chief was accompanied by party candidate from the seat, Ravneet Singh Bittu and CM Capt Amarinder Singh. He hit out at the PM saying that his demonetisation move was an attack on the people of Luhdiana and the country’s economy.
Addressing the crowd, he asked: “Aa gaye acche din notebandi se? Kaisa laga Gabbar Singh Tax (GST)? Kya koi yahaan bol sakta hai ki usey notebandi se faayda hua? (Did good days come with demonetization? How was GST? Can anyone say here that he or she was benefited with demonetisation).”
“MSME ke bina India bada nahi ho sakta aur kisaan ke bina India khara nahi ho sakta (India cannot grow without MSME and cannot stand without farmers),” Rahul said.
At an election rally in Bargari, the Congress president said that strict action will be taken against the perpetrators involved in the 2015 desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib. “I recall coming here when your ‘dharam’ (Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib) was disrespected. And those who did wrong, strict action will be taken against them and I give you guarantee on this,” he said.
At another Punjab rally on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi’s sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had also tried to corner BJP’s ally SAD over the issue.
The Congress focus on the desecration of religious scriptures comes at a time when the BJP has renewed its attack on the party over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, both emotive issues in state which goes to the polls on Sunday.
At Rahul’s rally, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced a memorial in Bargari for those who lost their lives and suffered injuries in the 2015 police firing.
Reacting to the Bargari rally, the Akali Dal accused the Congress of politicising the desecration of Sikh scriptures and also recalled the anti-Sikh riots, which took place around the time Rahul Gandhi’s father Rajiv Gandhi took over as PM. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal accused Rahul of committing “sacrilege” by visiting Bargari village to “politicise” the grave issue.
At his rally, Rahul Gandhi also taunted Modi for allegedly failing to keep poll promises, and contrasted the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government with that headed by Narendra Modi.
“Modi used to make fun of Manmohan Singh. But after five years now, Modi ji does not make fun of Manmohan ji. Today the country is making fun of him,” Rahul said, adding: “The PM thinks only one person can run the country, but actually it is the people who run it.”
TOO MUCH OF ‘LUDHIANA’
On Rafale deal
“France ka rashtrapati kyu keh raha hai ki Hindsutan ke pradhan mantri ne bola ki hawai jahaaz France mein banega, Ludhiana mein kyu nahi? Punjab mein kyu nahi? France mein kyu?” (Why is the French President saying that Indian PM said that planes will be made in France, why not in Ludhiana? Why not in Punjab? Why France?)
Inviting Modi for debate
“Maine chowkidaar ji se kaha ki aayie… brashtachaar ke baare mein discussion debate karte hain…. Delhi bula lijiye… Race Course bula lijiye… Parliament bula lijiye… Ludhiana mein baat karte hain (I told chowkidaar ji to come and have a debate with me on corruption…Let’s talk in Delhi, at Race Course.. at Parliament.. let’s talk in Ludhiana) I guarantee that after 15 minutes he won’t be able to show face to country…”
“He (Modi) talks about my family the whole day.. Abuse me as much as you want.. I will fill you with love.. I have learnt it from Punjab, from Guru Nanak.. Punjab ka DNA hai.. Ludhiana ka DNA hai…”
(with PTI inputs)