New Delhi: Congress party on Saturday hit the ground running with a massive rally in the national capital's Ramlila Maidan where it took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi led union government over the issues of slowdown in the economy, farm distress and the recent changes made to the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The national rally, first since the party faced its second biggest defeat in the general elections six months ago and since Sonia Gandhi returned as Congress president, is being seen as Congress’ attempt of putting the political spotlight back on former party president Rahul Gandhi.
"BJP leaders told me in Parliament yesterday that I should apologise. I want them to know that my name is Rahul Gandhi and not Rahul Savarkar, I will not apologise. Nor will any Congress worker," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in the rally on Saturday taking an aggressive posturing against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. His comments were in reference to BJP leaders asking for his apology over his remark on rape which has turned controversial.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has single handedly ruined India's economy. This year is one of the worries in terms of unemployment. This government has taken out money from your pockets," Rahul Gandhi added as he accused the union government of bringing policies including demonetization as those hurting common people and farmers.
Rahul Gandhi, who was the penultimate speaker ahead of Sonia Gandhi, spoke the longest and drew the loudest applause from party workers and supporters who turned out in huge numbers. The rally was significant not just in the backdrop of growing protests in North East states particularly Assam over the amendments to the Citizenship Act.
"Modi and (home minister Amit) Shah do not care how the citizenship bill is ripping into the soul of India, the consequences of which is visible in North East," Sonia Gandhi said in the rally.
"However, I have complete hope that the fundamentals of this country will not allow this. I assure you Congress will stay with anyone who is wronged. Congress is not going to step back," she added.
Congress' general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too addressed the rally and raised the issue of crimes against women.
Several senior Congress leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former finance minister P. Chidambaram and chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath, Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot.
"Congress is the only option and Rahul Gandhi is our leader," Bhupesh Baghel said while giving a clarion call. He also raised issues of his states including non payment of GST dues.