Ahmadabad: With the polling date for the first phase in the Gujarat Assembly polls fast approaching, the BJP, the Congress and the AAP leadership on Monday hit the campaign trail in the election-bound state, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the charge for the BJP.
PM Modi attacked the main Opposition Congress, saying that “those who have been thrown out of power are taking out a yatra to get back to power”, in a clear dig at the ongoing “Bharat Jodo Yatra” led by the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi. In his first rally in the poll- bound state, Mr Gandhi said he felt the “pain” of farmers, youth and tribals after meeting them and listening to their problems during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. AAP supreme Arvind Kejriwal promised free electricity for the state if his party comes to power. The first phase of the poll will be held on December 1.
While Mr Modi addressed three rallies in the state, Mr Rahul Gandhi addressed two and the Mr Kejriwal held a roadshow.
Addressing a gathering in Surendranagar, Mr Modi said some people abuse Gujarat even after eating salt that is manufactured in the state. Gujarat produces 80 per cent of the country’s salt, he added.
Mr Modi said people who were dethroned long back were taking out a yatra to get back to power. “They can do it but they are walking with those who stalled the Narmada Dam project for 40 years,” Mr Modi said, referring to the Narmada Bachao Andolan spearheaded by Medha Patkar, who recently joined the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra recently.
“The people of Gujarat have decided to punish those who stalled the Narmada Dam project for 40 years,” the PM said. He also said that instead of talking of development during the election campaign, the Congress was saying it will show him his “aukat” (status).
“In the past, the Congress had used words like ‘neech aadmi’, ‘maut ka saudagar’ and ‘naali ka keeda’ for me. Now, instead of talking about development during the polls, the Congress leaders are saying they will show Modi his aukat”, he said, adding: “Modi has no status, he is the servant of the people”.
Mr Modi also talked about empowering women in society. “Our emphasis is on employment of sisters and daughters and on self-employment. That’s why Sakhi Mandals are being empowered,” he said.
Tribals are a strong vote bank in the state, Mr Modi said, and the BJP’s priority has also been the state’s tribal population. The PM said the Congress and like-minded people neither respect tribals nor took care of their needs. He highlighted how the BJP is now empowering tribals and raising their pride in society, and added that the BJP government was supporting the tribal population at every stage of their lives.
In his first election rally in poll-bound Gujarat, Mr Gandhi, addressing a gathering of tribals at Mahuva in Surat district, said they were the first owners of the country and claimed that the BJP was working to take away their rights.
“They call you ‘vanvasi’. They do not say you are the first owners of India, but that you live in the jungle. Do you see the difference? It means they do not want you to live in the cities, they do not want that your children become engineers, doctors, learn to fly planes, speak English,” he said.
He further said: “They want you to live in the jungle, but do not stop there. After that, they start taking the jungle from you. If it continues like this, then in another 5-10 years, all the jungles will be in the hands of two-three industrialists, and you will have no place to live, and won’t get education, health and jobs.”
Mr Gandhi also raised the Morbi bridge collapse incident to attack the BJP, alleging that because those actually involved in the incident share a good relationship with the BJP, nothing happened to them.
Addressing a roadshow in Amreli, Mr Kejriwal said: “Both the BJP and the Congress don’t speak about inflation. I will free you from the clutches of the price rise. I will waive off your entire electricity bill from March 1”. Raking up the “rewdi culture”, Mr Kejriwal took a swipe at the BJP, saying that the BJP “abuse me and say Kejriwal is distributing free ‘rewadis’ which is a loss-making move. But don’t worry. I am educated and won’t let you incur any loss.”