Congress vice president launches scathing attack on Modi government in poll-bound Gujarat, flaunts his prize catch Alpesh Thakur
On a day when the BJP in poll-bound Gujarat received a major setback with the resignation of a key Patel leader and allegations of bribery by another prominent face of the Patel Andolan, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, on Monday, took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi that would have certainly riled the saffron party.
Visiting Gandhinagar in Gujarat a day after the Prime Minister went on a project inauguration spree in his home state and reiterated his oft-quoted attacks at the Congress, Rahul dubbed the Modi government’s version of the Goods and Services Tax – which was rolled out by Modi and his finance minister Arun Jaitley in July this year – as the Gabbar Singh Tax (GST). Hoping to draw voter support for his party by trying to cash in on the perceived anger among Gujarat’s trader and small-scale businesses community, the Congress vice president said that the new tax regime coupled with demonetisation have ruined the country’s economy.
“What happened on November 8? Modiji came on television and said I don’t like Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. So I have decided to spike them from that midnight. And by doing that he attacked the whole country by one stroke,” Gandhi said at the rally.
The Nehru-Gandhi scion claimed that for the first couple of days after demonetisation, the Prime Minister “did not understand what has happened” but realised just a week later that he had made a mistake and so “he appeared on television and said if I don’t end the menace of black money by December 30 then hang me.”
In a speech which was generously peppered with direct attacks on Modi, his BJP, references to the controversy over BJP national president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s rise in wealth under the BJP regime at the Centre and sarcastic swipes at various schemes of launched by the Prime Minister, Rahul sought to make a strong pitch for the Congress ahead of the assembly polls in Gujarat which are scheduled for December.
The Congress vice president didn’t forget to flaunt his party’s prized political catch in the state – OBC and Adivasi activist/leader Alpesh Thakore, who officially joined the Congress earlier in the day.
Rahul had earlier, on Monday, also given his party a theme for the election – Gujaratis are priceless and can’t be purchased – hoping to make incremental electoral gains by drawing on the pride of the voters in the state where Modi had managed to retain his clout by riding on the popularity of his ‘Gujarati Asmita’ remark.
Rahul’s ‘Gujaratis can’t be purchased’ remark was in reference to Patel Andolan leader Narendra Patel’s allegation that he had been offered Rs 1 crore as bribe by the BJP to join the party. Patel had in a dramatic turn of events, on Sunday night, convened a press conference and brandished wads of currency notes amounting to Rs 10 lakh, alleging that this was the “advance bribe” given to him by the BJP for his decision to join the party. He had then claimed that he was resigning from the party, which he had joined only hours earlier.
Rahul, who has in recent days been persistent with his attacks on Modi and his government over the slowing pace of India’s economy and the lack of job opportunities for the country’s youth, continued with his broadside on Monday too, attacking Modi’s Digital India, Make in India and Start Up India initiatives.
“He destroyed the entire economy. He did not stop there but went ahead with the GST,” Gandhi said. “GST was our thinking. We brought it, it was a thought of single tax of 18 per cent across the nation with less forms to be filled,” Rahuol claimed, adding: “Now there is a GST with 28 per cent tax and three return forms. Now GST has become a Gabbar Singh Tax,” he quipped, referring to the famous villain in Bollywood blockbuster Sholay.
Attacking the “Make in India” slogan of the PM Modi, Gandhi pointed out that it was Chinese goods everywhere in the country. “The government has to give employment to youth. India’s competition is with China. Should employment go to China or come to India?” he asked.
“Most of the products you use have the label of Made in China. Whether it is a shirt, cameras or anything else. When you click selfies or press a button for a picture, a Chinese youth gets employment,” he said, claiming that around 30 lakh youth are unemployed in Gujarat alone. “Everyday 30,000 people across the country enter the job market. But only 450 people get jobs.”