Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Monday dared the Congress to contest the Gujarat Assembly election on the development plank while addressing a massive rally in what is likely to be his last speech at a big public rally before the Election Commission’s model code of conduct kicks in.
Sounding the poll bugle, the Prime Minister mounted a fierce attack on the Congress during the public meeting, which comes on the heels of the Gujarat government announcing a series of sops.
While PM Modi said the Gujarat election was a fight between "vikasvaad" (development politics) and "vanshvaad" (dynasty politics), BJP
President Amit Shah
made it clear that the party was seeking votes in the name of the Prime Minister to retain power in Gujarat, and set a target of over three-fourths majority in the 182-member Assembly.
Here are the highlights the Gandhinagar rally:
PM Modi accused the "corrupt" Congress of being concerned with only "preserving its dynasty" and challenged the party to fight elections on the issue of development. "Communalism, casteism, dynastic rule, misleading the people -- these are the instruments which Congress uses to win elections. They don't have it in them to win on the issue of development. I challenge them to fight on the issue of development and stop misleading people," Modi said.
PM Modi asserted that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime was a collective decision of all political parties and state governments and that the Centre was only a small part in the decision-making process. Addressing the massive gathering of party workers, Modi said in Gujarati that all "political parties, including the Congress, took the decision to bring in GST. You are all partners in this decision". The prime minister said the Congress was spreading misinformation. "Tax-related issues are not decided by me or the central government. All states are represented here. So the Congress should not spread misinformation. The Congress, too, is a part of the decision-making progress."
3) Assuring traders that issues around the GST regime would be resolved, PM Modi said: "All GST-related issues will be resolved soon. I am confident that our traders will understand. I am assuring them. This is my promise." Modi said he has been in touch with businessmen after the launch of the GST and claimed they like the system because it has freed them from bureaucratic red tape. He said, as promised, his government reviewed the way the new indirect tax regime was working after three months following which several changes were made to fulfil their demands. Modi also assured the business community that the government is trying to sort out problems they are still facing. "I am sure that businessmen of the country need this system, but they demand simplicity. This is being put before the GST (Council) and discussed collectively," he said.
4) Modi also attacked the Congress over observing November 8, the day demonetisation was announced last year, as "black day", something which his government would celebrate as "black money mukti diwas" (day of freedom from black money). Modi said following demonetisation, the sources of origin of Rs 3 lakh crore of dubious money are being probed and his government has shut down 210,000 companies without any protest. "So far we have shut down 210,000 companies and there has been no protest or burning of Modi's effigy," he said.
5) PM Modi excoriated the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, accusing it of disliking Gujarat and Gujaratis who were an "eyesore" for them. Invoking tall leaders from the poll-bound state like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai, the prime minister accused the "Congress and the family" of slighting them. "Gujarat polls are round the corner and the Congress has developed fever once again. Gujarat has been an eyesore for the party and the family. I won't repeat what they did to Sardar Patel, his daughter Maniben, and Morarji Desai. They did not speak about the work of Morarji Desai or his dedication and commitment to Mahatma Gandhi's ideals. They instead chose to talk about what he ate and drank," Modi said.
Modi also alleged a "conspiracy" was hatched by the Congress to put him in jail, in an apparent reference to accusations of his complicity in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. "You did not waste any opportunity to strike. When I was the chief minister and you were in power at the Centre, you hatched a conspiracy to put me in jail. You knew that it was not possible until Amit Shah
chief) was put behind bars, you did that. This is the poison, the malice you harbour. Since Patel conceived the Narmada project, it was not allowed to be completed for 40-50 years," Modi said as he repeatedly attacked the Nehru-Gandhi family in his speech.
7) The Prime Minister targeted the Congress over the resignation of party leader Madhavsinha Solanki, who as the foreign minister was alleged to have sent a letter to his then Swiss counterpart to scuttle the Bofors scandal probe. "They forced Solanki to resign. the party can go to any extent to save the family," he said.
Shah took a dig at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who has been leading his party's campaign in the poll-bound state, saying he had not done enough for his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh and was questioning how the BJP
has been developing Gujarat. "Rahul Gandhi has not been able to get a collectorate office made in Amethi and is questioning our work in Gujarat," the BJP
9) Shah also lashed out at critics of Modi's pet project, the high-speed rail project, or bullet train, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. "They are mocking bullet train but Gujarat's people love development," Shah said.
Criticising Congress' social media campaign, Vikas gando thayo chhe (development has gone crazy), Shah said development was a joke for the Congress while for the BJP
it was a mindset.