Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday took on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on his home turf, questioning his Gujarat development model and asking voters not to elect the forces whose ideology hinges on “hardline” thinking and “hatred”.
Ms. Gandhi also accused Mr. Modi of not doing enough to prevent corruption in his State.
“I want to know why the Gujarat government took 10 years to appoint a Lokayukta here?” Ms. Gandhi asked.
Taking a jibe at the Gujarat model, Ms. Gandhi said the State was burdened with a debt of Rs.175,000 crore.
“The BJP claims that if it is elected, heaven will come down on Earth. The truth is Gujarat is burdened with debt,” Ms. Gandhi said.
Accusing Mr. Modi of being concerned only about his chair and not the people, the Congress president said the State has the highest dropout rate in the country and does not consider a family poor if its income is more than Rs. 11." Ms. Gandhi also said one out of every two children in the State was malnourished.
“What is more startling is that those who earn more than Rs. 11 are not considered to be poor by the Gujarat government. Tell me whether this is heaven or something else. They are only concerned about their chair and have nothing to do with the poor,” she said addressing a public meeting in Valsad.
Ms. Sonia said that this year’s elections is being fought between two ideologies and appealed to voters to shun forces which nurture radical views such as hatred, narrow-mindedness and discrimination.
“BJP is such an ideology. It dances to the tune of an organisation which does not believe in ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’.., which through hate mongering, narrow-mindedness and hardline thinking creates discrimination in the society,” she said.
She said that as opposed to Congress ideology which seeks to unite the nation and brings in amity between different faiths and religion, BJP’s ideology smacks of cruelty which is harmful for the nation.
“Such ideology breaks the country’s traditions and principles which we have nursed for centuries. It is such an ideology which wants to impose cruelty in the name of unity,” she said.
Sonia said that her party believes in a strong democratic set up where everyone is treated as equal in the society. She also exuded confidence that people will not be mislead by such divisive forces and will defeat them.
She said Congress is fighting for all sections of the society and has promised many schemes and programmes for their welfare in its 2014 manifesto.
She called on the people to vote for the Congress, reminding them of the party's poll promise of free houses for the poor, free medical care for the poor, and pension for senior citizens.