Bardoli (Gujarat): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today launched a blistering attack on Narendra Modi, slamming him for his roots in RSS "whose ideology killed Mahatma Gandhi" and debunking his claims of development in Gujarat.
Congress's chief campaigner for Lok Sabha elections also accused Modi, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, of "empowering himself" and his disregard for transparency in governance. "He (Modi) has spent his entire life in RSS and has nothing to do with the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. Its (RSS') ideology killed the Mahatma and Patel proposed to ban it after that," Rahul said addressing a rally here.
Rahul Gandhi. File pic
Targeting Modi over his alleged attempts to 'appropriate' Patel's legacy by constructing the 'Statue of Unity' of India's first Home Minister, billed to be the world's tallest, he said, "Patel had called RSS a poisonous ideology which will destroy India's soul. Patel devoted his life to Congress and the poor.
"They (BJP leaders) don't even think about what Patel's ideology was. Never read about him. Never try to understand him and now they want to build his statue," he said. Patel had successfully led Bardoli Satyagrah in 1928 against 30 per cent increase in taxes on farmers of the region ravaged by drought.
Rahul, apparently seeking to contain an adverse political fallout of senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's 'chai wala' jibe against Modi, said all people should be respected but attacked the Gujarat Chief Minister for repeated reference to his humble origin.
"The whole country does something or the other. One makes tea, the other drives taxi and another does farming. We should respect all but not the one who makes fool of people," he said.
Targeting BJP on the issue of corruption, Rahul said that while the party may talk about combating graft, the post of Lokayukta in Gujarat had remained vacant for nine years.
Referring to pending anti-graft Bills in Parliament, Rahul said that while the opposition always attacked others on corruption, "there is complete silence when we ask them to help us pass those measures".
Attacking Modi's Cabinet colleagues in Gujarat, he said that people who had been in jail for corruption were now ministers in the state government. In Gujarat, the government is being run by the "rich" and the poor have no say in it, Rahul alleged. "Six thousand farmers have committed suicide here... Sikh farmers are being deprived of their land. Their ally SAD has also not said a word about their plight," Rahul said.
His reference was to the Sikh farmers in Kutch whose land has been frozen on the grounds that they were outsiders who could not own farm land in the state. Rahul added that while Congress talks of eliminating poverty, BJP believes in wiping out the poor.
He also blamed the state government for the closure of 55,000 small businesses in Gujarat. "There is a Rs 1,70,000 crore debt here, but there is not a single word on the issue," he said about the state's farm debt. He claimed that 13,000 government schools had shut in Gujarat, but the BJP keeps targeting others on various issues instead of attending to its affairs in the state.