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Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said thousands of youths in Gujarat, belonging to all castes, will not remain silent now and their voices cannot be "suppressed" or "purchased".
He was addressing a rally which marked formal joining of OBC leader Alpesh Thakor in the Congress as part of its strategy of broadening its political and social base to take on the long-ruling BJP.
Gandhi attacked Modi and the BJP while latching on to the bribery allegation made by Narendra Patel, an activist of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).
Narendra Patel, within hours of joining the BJP, alleged last night at a press conference that he was offered Rs 1 crore by the BJP and was given a token amount of Rs 10 lakh, a charge rubbished by the saffron party.
"This Gujarati voice is not an ordinary voice. This voice of Gujarat cannot be silenced or suppressed. You can offer any thing, (Rs) one crore, (Rs) 10 crore, (Rs) 50 crore, (Rs) 1000 crore, entire budget of India, entire money of the world, (but) this Gujarati voice cannot be purchased," Gandhi said.
"In the past also, there were attempts to suppress this voice. British tried to suppress Gandhiji, first in South Africa, then in Gujarat and India. But the voice of Gujarat drove out that superpower from the country," he said.
"Sardar Patelji, Gandhiji were from this land and they used to protect the voice of Gujarat," he said.
"But today this (BJP) government wants to suppress Gujarat's voice. They are so scared that they want to buy the voice," Gandhi alleged, adding "Modiji, there is no price tag for this voice. Modiji you cannot purchase Gujarat's voice."
During Gandhi's speech, Alpesh Thakor asked the crowd to be silent and listen to the Congress vice president's speech.
At this, Gandhi said, "You want to make the crowd silent Alpeshji? But they cannot remain silent. Modiji has harassed them so much that they cannot remain silent."
The rally was organised by Thakor and his supporters.
"There are thousands of youths in Gujarat who cannot remain silent now. They belong to all castes. There are two more youths like you (Thakor) - they are Hardik (Patel) and Jignesh (Mevani, a Dalit leader). Both of them cannot remain silent," the Congress leader said.
Modi, on a visit to Gujarat last week, mounted a stinging attack on the Congress and the Nehru Gandhi family, saying they disliked Gujarat and Gujaratis who were an "eyesore" for them.
In his 30-minute speech, Gandhi said, "Every caste is agitating here, I am surprised that everybody is agitating here. They are tired of false promises of the BJP government."
The Congress vice president also targeted Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on the issue of alleged business deals of the latter's son Jay Shah. Amit Shah and Jay have denied any wrongdoing.
"Modiji gave long lectures in Gujarat (during his recent visits), but has not spoken a single line regarding the company of Jay Shah," Gandhi said.
"Modiji Make in India has failed. Only one company has benefited from the Make in India programme. The company was worth of Rs 50,000 and not made any progress till 2014. But after 2014 it grew to Rs 80 crore," he said.
"Modiji just speak one sentence about it. You had said that you will not indulge in corruption and would not allow others to do it, then what is this," Gandhi said.
On last Saturday, Thakor had met Gandhi in New Delhi and later announced that he would soon join the Congress.
The Congress has been wooing leaders of various communities like Hardik Patel, Mevani and Thakor. The party is inviting them to join hands with the aim of expanding its base by securing the support of Patels, OBCs and Dalits, and dent the BJP's poll prospects in its stronghold.
The Congress has been out of power in Gujarat for the last 22 years.