Nehru-Gandhi scion hit out at Modi for failing to deliver on poll promises, wonders how Shah’s son made his fortune in three years, why RSS has no women
Amid talks of his imminent elevation as the Congress president – taking the baton from his mother, Sonia Gandhi – Rahul Gandhi showed that he is finally learning the ropes of political semantics as he launched a scathing attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and took digs at BJP national president Amit Shah in their home state of Gujarat on Tuesday.
The Congress vice president didn’t spare the BJP’s parent outfit – the RSS – either, wondering why the outfit had no representation of women.
On his campaign tour in Gujarat which goes for assembly polls later this year, Rahul even admitted that the crushing defeat of his party in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and the ongoing abuse that is hurled at him and his party colleagues by right-wing sympathizers and BJP leaders on social media platforms had “knocked sense” into the Congress leadership.
“The BJP helped me a lot. They have really helped me. We lost 2014 but the defeat could not have helped us more. Itni buri tarah haraya ki pit pitkar humein akal aagayi (They beat us so badly in 2014 that it drilled sense into us),” the Congress vice president said in Vadodara, expressing “gratitude” to the BJP.
“Pitai karke, gaali deke, maar maarke (they beat me, abused me, thrashed me)… They opened my eyes,” Rahul said. The Nehru-Gandhi scion’s remarks came on a day when BJP national president Amit Shah, Union I&B minister Smriti Irani and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath were all in his constituency Amethi where they too launched a broadside against him for his alleged failure to bring development to his family bastion.
The Congress vice president has evidently been drawing much joy out of the recent controversy that Amit Shah has landed himself in ever since a news portal carried an expose showing how his son, Jay Shah, had seen a meteoric rise in his company’s wealth ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power at the Centre in 2014. The expose shows how Jay Shah’s fortunes rose 16,000 times in the past three year as his company which posted a turnover of a paltry Rs. 50,000 before 2014 went up to a turnover of over Rs. 80 crores in 2016.
“Have you heard of start-up India? The most successful is Jay Shah’s start up… it’s a very interesting story,” Gandhi said, going on to sum it up for his audience. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: “The chowkidaar of India is quiet, he doesn’t like to comment on these things.”
At another interactive session, when Gandhi was asked by a journalist to comment on the controversy around Jay Shah’s wealth, he asked the journalist to come closer to the stage and then hailed him for being a “brave man” for having the guts to ask questions about Amit Shah’s son. Rahul then posed a series of questions to the journalist – what is the name of Jay Shah’s company, what was its turnover earlier, what were its profits last year, what was the quantum rise in his wealth, etc. He then told the journalist – when you know all this, then why are you asking me to comment on it!
In Rahul’s sharp and pointed attacks, his party men see signs of the new, more savvy and confident leader set to take over as Congress president – a far cry from the “reluctant politician” image that he is known for and something that he had recently said was a perception about him that was created systematically by “a 1000-member strong army” of BJP trolls.
Hitting out at the RSS with comments that clearly infuriated the BJP leadership, the Congress vice president accused the Sangh and its political progeny of discriminating against women in their organisations and asked if anyone had ever seen women at an RSS ‘shakha’ meeting wearing shorts, the group’s trademark khaki uniform.
“Their thinking is, as long as women are silent, all is good. But as soon as she opens her mouth, they run to shut her up,” Rahul Gandhi said, adding: “If the Congress is voted to power, it will focus on women’s empowerment”.
Rahul’s renewed pitch for women’s empowerment comes weeks after Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to use his party majority in the Lok Sabha to get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by the House.