Congress chief Rahul Gandhi sounded the poll bugle for 2019 with a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, questioning his silence on a number of issues and throwing an open challenge to the BJP by claiming that the Congress would win the next round of Assembly elections and the Lok Sabha poll.
Addressing the Jan Aakrosh (People’s Anger) Rally at the historic Ram Lila ground in Delhi on Sunday, Mr. Gandhi said there was growing anger against the Modi government over issues such as corruption, unemployment, agrarian distress, women’s safety and atrocities on Dalits among others.
Mr. Gandhi termed Mr. Modi’s visit to China as one without an agenda, and alleged that the Prime Minister didn’t raise the presence of Chinese troops in the Doklam plateau with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Wherever I go I ask people ‘Are you happy’ and they say ‘No, we have a lot of anger’. The country listens to the Prime Minister’s speeches and then tries to look for the truth. The country says PM has spoken for half an hour, so let’s sit and find out the truth.”
Alleging that the PM was “successful in spreading lies” about the Congress leadership in the run-up to the 2014 poll, Mr. Gandhi said people were now beginning to see the truth about Mr. Modi.
He asserted that the Congress would win the coming Assembly polls in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as the Lok Sabha election in 2019. “Let me tell you, in Karnataka the Congress party will win, in Chhattisgarh, the Congress party will win, in Madhya Pradesh the Congress will win, in Rajasthan as well the Congress will win and in 2019 as well, the Congress will win the elections,” he said. “We will win because the Congress workers, who give their blood and sweat, are sher ka baccha (lion’s cubs). They are soldiers of truth. You can beat them, break their legs or shoot them but they won’t desert truth,” Mr. Gandhi said.
Summing up the four years of the Modi government, the Congress chief said, “Modi ji used to say the Congress has done nothing in the past 70 years. Give me 60 months and I will change India. Let me tell you what Modiji has given in 60 months. He has given unemployment, the BJP leaders are exploiting our women, Modiji gave the Gabbar Singh Tax (referring to GST) that ruined our small traders and businessmen and Prime Minister Modi couldn’t stand before China.”
The issue of corruption figured prominently in Mr. Gandhi’s speech that lasted over 30 minutes.
“In the Karnataka poll campaign, PM Modi talks about fighting corruption from the stage with Mr. Yeddyuruppa standing right next to him. BJP’s chief ministerial face is someone who went to jail. Piyush Goyal becomes a Minister and doesn’t declare his company. After that he sells off his company to a power company, a first for a Power Minister to do this but Modi ji doesn’t utter a word,” the Congress chief said.
Raising the issue of the Rafale deal, BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s business dealings and the Nirav Modi bank scams, the Congress chief said “Prime Minister Modi has not uttered one word about these issues.” Mr. Gandhi said that while Congress governments in Punjab and Karnataka waived off farm loans in 10 days, the PM refused to do so even after the Congress leader personally petitioned him. “Farmers wouldn’t have survived if the Congress had not stood with them as Modi ji would have given away their lands,” he said.
He also mocked the Modi government as one that witnessed many “embarrassing firsts” like the Prime Minister being advised to take care of women’s safety at an international forum (referring to the IMF chief Christine Laggard’s comments) and the press conference of the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court.
Accusing the BJP of spreading hatred, he said, “This country is like a building. And to construct a building you need a lot of materials like bricks, sand. Foundation is required. A ceiling is built and tiles are placed but the structure cannot be built without water. The Congress is that water that builds the structure of India with love.”