The Prime Minister held public meetings at Bhuj (Kutch), Jasdan (Rajkot), Chalala (Amreli) and Kadodara (Surat), targeting nearly 30 Assembly constituencies which will go to polls on December 9.
Kicking off his poll campaign on Monday ahead of the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Congress was “making fun of the poor as a tea seller grabbed their gaddi (seat)”, and accused it of “conspiring” and “throwing out four Patidar chief ministers” of the state.
He identified himself as “son of Gujarat”, and said recently “so much kichad (muck)” has been thrown at the BJP that it made “the lotus bloom easy”. To corner the Congress over the issue of terrorism, Modi compared the response of the UPA government following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 with that of the NDA government after the Uri attack in 2016 and mentioned the surgical strike by the Army along the LoC.
He referred to a report in The Indian Express on the surgical strikes to make the point that bodies of those killed in the strikes had been carted away.
The Prime Minister held public meetings at Bhuj (Kutch), Jasdan (Rajkot), Chalala (Amreli) and Kadodara (Surat), targeting nearly 30 Assembly constituencies which will go to polls on December 9. The Surat event was earlier planned in the Patidar-dominated area of Kamrej, but later moved 18-km away to Kadodara.
At these meetings, Modi accused the Congress of insulting him, besides being unfair towards the Patidars and largely people of Gujarat. He slammed the opposition party over the issues of demonetisation, GST and terrorism and also reminded people of his achievements both as Gujarat chief minister and now as Prime Minister, especially bringing water to parched areas of the state though Narmada project.
In a bid to strike a chord with the audience at his first public meeting in Bhuj: “I have come here as your son. You (people) have brought me up like a son. And how dare you (Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi) come to Gujarat and abuse her son?”
He reiterated his charge that the Congress and the Gandhi-Nehru family always hated Gujarat and its people since the time of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The PM then posed a question to those attending the rally, “Will any Gujarati forgive that? Will you forgive the attack on your son? Will you forgive the atrocity on your son?.” The audience shouted “no” in reply.
“Gujarat had tolerated injustice you had done to it during the time of Sardar Patel. But, now times have changed. Gujarat will not tolerate insults. You must understand it,” Modi said. He further said: “For the past few days, people from across the country have hurled so much muck that it has made blossoming of lotus very easy.”
The Prime Minister’s statement came days after Youth Congress posted “tu chai bech” meme on Twitter targeting him. To corner the Congress over the issue of terrorism, Modi compared the response of the UPA government following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 with that of the NDA government after the Uri attack in 2016 as he referred to the surgical strike by the Army along the LoC.
“Our soldiers killed them in their homes. If you cannot maintain dignity of the Indian army, you should have at least stayed silent… You asked questions like why even a single soldier was not injured or killed (in surgical strike), is there a video or photograph of it…,” said Modi, adding, “Did we go to shoot a film there?”
“Should we shoot it like you do while having food at a poor family’s home?” he asked amid screams of ‘Modi, Modi’ in the audience. He also mentioned how The Indian Express had reported on the surgical strikes.
In a apparent reference to Rahul’s recent “hugplomacy fail” tweet after alleged 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest following an order by a Pakistani court, the PM said: “Recently, a Pakistani court released a terrorist. I cannot understand, if why are Congress people clapping… In Doklam, the Indian Army was standing eye to eye on border (with the Chinese army) for 70 days and you were embracing the Chinese ambassador. When Indian soldier was standing against the Chinese soldiers in chilling temperatures, you were giving hugs to the Chinese ambassador.”
Gandhi had recently tweeted: “Narendrabhai, baat nahi bani. Terror mastermind is free. President Trump just delinked Pak military funding from LeT. Hugplomacy fail. More hugs urgently needed.” Modi said “vikas” was his mantra for Gujarat and cited several instances of Kutch’s progress under his leadership as the chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to early 2014 in various sectors like tourism, agriculture and infrastructure. Modi said that BJP has transformed Kutch into a land of development from what it once used to be known as the land of “smugglers”.
Citing the success story of Kesar mango of Kutch, and without naming Rahul, Modi said: “Certain people can’t understand certain things. If you tell them about Kesar mango, they will say that one gets Kesar (saffron) in Jammu & Kashmir. Now, tell me should I waste time in arguing with such people?” The audience replied in negative, screaming ‘Pappu.’
“I want to tell those who are spreading only pessimism, ‘Please, don’t weigh the country with your weaknesses. You do not have ‘niyat’, ‘niti’, ‘neta’ or ‘nata with soil,” said Modi.
Aiming at the Patidar votes in Jasdan, he accused the Congress of “conspiring” to throw out the then CM Keshubhai Patel on the pretext of the 2001 earthquake. He said, “Keshubhai Patel, a Patel son and Kathiawad no dikro (son of Kathiawad) , became the first BJP chief minister of Gujarat, but in the name of the earthquake, they spread all kinds of fear in the country and abroad… All these conspiracies to throw out the Keshubhai government happened in the Congress karyalaya.” Modi had become chief minister in October 21 after Kehubhai was removed.
He accused the Congress of throwing out “four Patidar chief ministers of Gujarat”. “For the first time, there was a Janta Morcha government in Gujarat, Babubhai Jashbhai Patel became chief minister of Gujarat with the support of Jan Sangh…this Congress could not stand it… in the name of emergency it conspired to put MLAs in jail and did horse trading. In nine months, the Congress sent him home and all his ministers to jail and handed over the government to Madhavsinhbhai.
Then it was the turn of Chimanbhai Patel… Indiraben (Gandhi) thought…’this Chimanbhai? he wants to go on his own in Gujarat?’. She kicked up such a storm in Gujarat that he too was thrown out. Again the BJP supported Chimanbhai, under the leadership of Keshubhai, and made him chief minister,” said Modi.
Blaming the Congress for Anandiben Patel’s resignation, he said: “Again they brought their men into the field…they put all their money and fanned the riot (the Patidar quota violence) to disturb her… This Congress party did not let four Patidar chief ministers sit in peace in Gujarat.”
Attacking the Congress for “making fun of the poor”, Modi said,”Now they are worried… a tea seller grabbed their gadi (seat). Never seen such contempt… if the son of a poor becomes the country’s prime minister, you should not be unhappy… was this seat handed over to you in inheritance? Congress, write this down…this is Modi, he will sell tea but not the country (a reference to scams during the UPA government). “
Jasdan has been a Congress bastion. Kunwarji Bavaliya, who is the Congress candidate from here, has represented the seat four times — 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2007. In 2012, the Congress retained the seat with Bholabhai Gohel as its MLA, but he voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections and was sacked from the party. The BJP candidate is Bharat Boghra.
The Prime Minister, during his rallies, responded to the Congress’s allegation of demonetistation and rushed implementation of GST hurting the economy, even as he noted that the central government was bringing changes to GST structure as per requirements.
At Chalala near Dhari in Amreli district, Modi claimed that the Congress “lost all its earning sons” after demonetisation and that’s why the party has been raising the issue even after one year.
He alleged the previous UPA government made money by allowing high retail prices of LED bulbs. He said during the UPA rule an LED bulb used to cost Rs 350, but since the NDA took over the reins, price of a single bulb has came down to Rs 6o.
“Where was the money going? In whose pocket was it going? I know the Congress is worried because all of its gates are closed. Why does not the Congress stop wailing over demonetisation even after 12 months… It (Congress) has lost all its earning sons after demonetisation. This is the reason tears are not drying up from their eyes… But, should we allow plunder of this country? Shouldn’t we bring back what has been plundered? Shouldn’t we win back rights of the poor. I’m fighting for this and won’t stop, come what may. People of this country have elected me for this only. I’ve started a yagna of cleaning up corruption, black money and dishonesty from the country. Won’t they eat Modi raw should they catch hold of him? Aren’t they waiting for me?” the PM said.
Modi claimed that three crore LED bulbs have been distributed in Gujarat, helping people to have an accumulated savings of Rs 2,000 crore on electricity.
He also accused the Congress governments, which ruled the state till 1995, of delaying the Narmada dam project and thereby not improving lives of people of Saurashtra and Kutch regions. “Our Kutch-Kathiawad was becoming a deserted country. Youth were migrating to Surat and Mumbai, and would spend life in slums. Despite owning 25 bigha to 50 bigha land, why the youth had to migrate from Kutch-Kathiawad, leaving behind aged parents? If governments of the past had brought Narmada water 30 years ago, Gujarat and Kutch-Kathiawad would not have to wait this long,” said Modi.
In Kadodara area of Surat, the Prime Minister accused the Congress of dividing society on communal and caste lines. “Twenty five years ago, ?the Congress had done some bad deeds of dividing the society… They made a brother fight brother, and have used the casteism poison and Gujarat is still paying for their sins. You (Congress) are using your old tricks on these new-age youth. These are changed youths.” He also referred to a Congress minister going to jail in connection with a blast case.
Earlier the public meeting was slated to be held at Patidar-dominated Kamrej on the outskirts of the Surat city, but the venue was changed. Members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti had protest at BJP’s election office in the constituency a few days ago.
Addressing the public meeting, PM said: “In the Uttar Pradesh elections, they have made atmosphere that the BJP will get only 25 seats and they have also discussed about the donkeys of Gujarat. They had likened Gujaratis with donkeys… They are now coming to touch the feet of donkeys. Such insult cannot be tolerated by any society. They don’t know that Gujarat people will take its revenge.”
Modi will now visit the state on November 29 and hold public meetings at Morbi, Prachi (Gir Somnath), Palitana (Bhavnagar) and Navsari.