Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced a host of promises including free electricity, farm loan waiver, compensation to Covid-hit families, 10 lakh new jobs and 3,000 new English medium schools for the people of Gujarat, if the Congress is voted to power in the State.
Assembly election is scheduled for the State in December. Addressing Congress booth workers at a rally in Ahmedabad, Mr. Gandhi also promised to provide gas cylinder for ₹500, subsidy to dairy farmers and free education to girls.
“The BJP government in Gujarat will waive loans of top industrialists, but have you ever heard of them waiving loans of farmers? I promise to waive loans of up to ₹3 lakh for each farmer after we come to power in Gujarat,” he said to thunderous applause from the crowd, mainly party booth workers gathered from across the State.
Taking on the BJP government in the State, Mr. Gandhi stressed that the Congress follows the ideology of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who worked for farmers, built institutions like Amul and fought colonial powers.
“Wherever we came to power, we said our first job will be to do what Sardar Patel would have done. And here, too, we will waive the loan of ₹3 lakh of farmers as Sardar Patel would have done contrary to BJP which writes off the debts of a few industrialists,” he said.
“For who did Sardar Patel fight for and why? Sardar Patel was not just a human being. You built the statue of his body, but he was not just a human, he was the voice of the farmers of Gujarat and India. Whatever he said was for the benefit of the farmers of Gujarat and India,” Mr. Gandhi said as he tried to contrast the BJP’s ideology with that of the legendary freedom fighter.
His 30-minute speech was sprinkled with references of Sardar Patel saying he gave voice to the farmers against the colonial powers while the BJP government tried to bring the farm laws “that were anti-farmer” and the government was forced to repeal them.
“Farmers from across the country had to come on roads, and the BJP says it fights for the rights of farmers. On one hand, they built the tallest statue of Sardar Patel, and on the other hand, they attacked all those for whom Sardar Patel fought and sacrificed his entire life. What is the meaning of the statue?” Mr. Gandhi wondered.
He exhorted the party workers to ensure that the BJP is defeated in the coming elections, preparing them for a tough ideological battle against the BJP and RSS.
He also reiterated his charge that “State institutions and media have been captured by the BJP government at the Centre” to deny a level-playing field and suppress the voice of the masses.
Repeating his charge that the BJP government works only for a handful of industrialists, the Congress leader said that from ports to airports and telecom sector, all are being handed over to a few select industrialists close to the government.
Another issue he raised in his speech in Ahmedabad was the seizure of large-scale drug consignments in Gujarat and said that the State under the BJP government has become a “centre of drug imports.”
“All drugs are imported from Mundra port,” he said. “But the government doesn’t take any action. This is the Gujarat model.”
He said the Congress government would help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small-business operators who create jobs.
After the rally, Mr. Gandhi visited Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram to attend a prayer meeting and pay tributes to the Mahatma ahead of his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ to be kicked off on September 7.