In a hard-hitting speech on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that the Bharatiya Janata Party represents the RSS ideology which killed Mahatma Gandhi, and showed scant respect for the poor while claiming to work for them.

“The BJP leaders here [in Gujarat] talk about Sardar Patel and say they will put up his statue. But these people don't know history. They haven’t read any books on the ideologies of Gandhiji and Sardar Patelji. Sardar Patel said the RSS is a poisonous ideology that will destroy the soul of India,” Mr. Gandhi said at a well-attended meeting in Bardoli.

After the Mahatma’s assassination, Sardar Patel had moved a resolution to ban the RSS. He gave his entire life for the Congress party and fought for the rights of the poor. “These leaders never read about it…but now want to build his statue,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Growth model

Taking on Mr. Modi on the high-profile growth model of Gujarat, he said just one person took all the credit, while it was the people who worked hard for development in the State. “BJP makes big claims on the education sector but 13,000 government schools were shut down in Gujarat. This is never mentioned by its leaders…” Moreover, he said, just one person wielded all power in the State.

“While we talk about eradicating poverty, BJP talks about eradicating the poor,” the Congress leader added.

When someone from the crowd raised the chai wala comment (made by a Congress leader about Mr. Modi and which has embarrassed the party), Rahul Gandhi responded, “All of India does some work. Some make tea, some drive taxis, some are farmers. We have to respect chai wala, labourer or farmer. Respect everyone. But not the one who makes a fool of us,” drawing loud applause