Rahul Gandhi gives clarion call for 2019, says Congress only saviour of farmers
In his address, Rahul Gandhi attacked PM Modi’s government over a host of issues, including unemployment, Dalit atrocities, financial frauds and farm distress
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday set the tone for the party’s campaign for the next general elections with a clarion call for party workers, saying the Congress was all set to win the polls.
Making his first public address in the national capital since taking over the top post in December last year, Gandhi exuded confidence in his party’s ability to win the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections as well as subsequent state elections while attacking the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over a range of issues.
“We will win Karnataka, we will win Rajasthan, we will win Madhya Pradesh, we will win Chhattisgarh and we will win in 2019,” Gandhi told cheering party leaders, workers and supporters at the Jan Aakrosh (public anger) Rally organized at the capital’s historic Ramlila Maidan.
The rally comes just ahead of the 12 May assembly elections in Karnataka, where Congress is the incumbent, which will be followed later in the year by polls in three other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
In a bid to corner the BJP over corruption, Gandhi said that during Karnataka’s campaign, Modi has been speaking about anti-corruption but while standing next to B. S. Yedyurappa. “Yedyurappa is BJP’s chief ministerial candidate and he has gone to jail, still the PM talks about fighting corruption,” Gandhi told the gathering.
Laying down a blueprint for the party’s campaign in the run-up to the national polls, Gandhi attacked the Union government over unemployment, atrocities against Dalits and minorities, financial frauds, attacks against women and farm distress. He said Modi has not spoken on any of these issues.
“Without Congress, the farmers of the country cannot live. If Congress did not stand up, Narendra Modi would have taken away all the land of the farmers away,” Gandhi said in his address which lasted nearly half-an-hour.
“Atrocities against Dalits are happening across the states...People from Dalit and minority communities are being killed but the Prime Minister has not spoken a word,” he added.
He sought to directly strike a chord with party workers, referring to them several times during the course of his speech. Crediting party workers with the Congress’ improved performance in Gujarat polls last year, Gandhi said Congress workers were like “sher ka bacchha” (lion’s cub) and many of them had sacrificed their lives for the country.
In an interesting development after Gandhi ended his speech, he returned after a brief break to “request” party workers to grant him leave of 10-15 days after the Karnataka elections to enable him to pay a visit to Kailash Mansarovar, a sacred Hindu site.
The public rally was attended by all the top leaders of the party including former party president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, both of whom also addressed the gathering.
“It is saddening to see that our society is suffering from unprecedented violence and hatred today. People from every section of society are suffering. The nation is going through turbulent times under Prime Minister Modi,” Sonia Gandhi said, adding that the roots of corruption “became stronger” under the BJP.
Singh in his address spoke at length about farm distress and unemployment. “The Modi government’s anti-farmer policies have resulted in an unprecedented agrarian distress in the country. Our farmers are demanding justice from the Modi government.”
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came down heavily on Rahul Gandhi and described his party’s “Jan Akrosh” rally as one held in the “quest of power”, PTI reported. Taking strong exception to Gandhi’s criticism of Modi, the senior BJP leader said the Congress president was trying to galvanise his cadre that was “sceptical of his leadership, having faced loss after loss ever since he has taken over the reins of his party”.
“Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Delhi has been organised in the quest of power, though he has given it the name of ‘Jan Akrosh’. He has claimed that his party will win the Assembly polls in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as well as the Lok Sabha polls next year. He is daydreaming,” Prasad told reporters.
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