Rahul kicks off Rajasthan poll campaign with roadshow, attacks Modi (Second Lead)
Jaipur : Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal with France and asked why a 70-year-old defence public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was ignored for manufacturing the fighter jet.
Gandhi also questioned how the cost of one aircraft, which was Rs 540 crore when the UPA government had signed the deal, rose to thrice its value to Rs 1,600 crore under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre.
"When this question is asked to a man, who claims he has 56-inch chest, and who says I am a 'chowkidaar' of the country, he prefers to remain tight-lipped in Parliament during 1.5 hours of discussion," he said.
Gandhi was speaking at a Congress rally in Jaipur on Saturday. He kicked off the party's poll campaign for the state Assembly elections later this year by holding a mega roadshow in the city.
He also questioned the Prime Minister on his promise of generating two crore employment opportunities anually.
"While China generates 50,000 jobs every 24 hours, India employs only 450 youths in the same period. Isn't this proportion inappropriate?" he said, adding that India has better talent, better numbers and better quality of hardworking people.
Recalling the promise made by the Prime Minister of Rs 15 lakh coming to every citizen's account, Gandhi said Modi failed to fulfil all the promises he made.
On farmer suicides, he sought to know if industrialists' loans can be waived off, why cannot those of farmers.
"Loans worth 2,30,000 crore of 15 top industrialists were waived off by the PM, but the farmers loans were not," he said.
"If industrialists are unable to repay loans, those are called NPAs (non-performing assets), but if farmers fail to pay back, they are called defaulters and are sent behind the bars. Why this discrimination?" he asked.
The Gandhi family scion also had a piece of advice for the Prime Minister: "If you are hugging industrialists, you should also hug a farmer."
He pointed out that even the demonetisation was implemented to help top industrialists.
The Congress President announced that after coming to power, his party will bring one GST slab for all goods and shall also bring petrol and diesel within the ambit of GST to ensure that inflation comes down.
Launching more attacks on Modi, Gandhi said: "Many times PM says 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao', but he never says from whom they should be protected. In UP, BJP MLA rapes a woman, but PM remains mum. So, many rapes are being reported, but PM never says a word.
"Even in Rajasthan, females feel insecure to walk alone. Modiji, women never felt so miserable in the last 70 years under the Congress rule as they are feeling now."
Asserting that the Congress will form government in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Gandhi said that no "parachute candidate" will be given tickets in these elections.
"The voice of ground workers will be the voice of Congress in state. Our first step is to win Assembly elections and next is to win Lok Sabha elections," he announced.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi was accorded a rousing welcome as he arrived at the Jaipur airport. Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC) President Sachin Pilot, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and many other senior party leaders were present to receive him on his maiden visit to Jaipur after he took over as the national chief of the party.
From airport, Rahul Gandhi started his roadshow on a bus waving to thousands of people who were eagerly awaiting to catch a glimpse of him.
The roadshow covered nearly 13km distance before reaching Ramlila Maidan around 5 p.m, where the party chief addressed the Congress workers.
Thousands of motorcycles, pedestrians, open jeeps and cars were part of the roadshow, while presence of camels and horses gave a royal touch to the show.
Before commencing of the roadshow, RPCC chief Pilot told the media: "Rahul Gandhi will start election campaigning with this visit. He shall also expose the working of BJP government in the last four-and-half years which has left the state in a state of despair."
He would also talk to delegates and strategise for the forthcoming elections, Pilot said.