Congress President Rahul Gandhi Sunday assured his party would provide special category status to Andhra Pradesh if voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections and would carry out "surgical strike" on poverty.
He expressed 'surprise' that parties in the state were not 'aggressively' pushingg Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant the special category status, promised by the UPA when the state was bifurcated five years ago.
Launching his party's campaign in Andhra Pradesh that goes to simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls on April 11, he told a rally here that his promise of a minimum income scheme NYAY was a "non-violent weapon" that will be used to uplift the poorest.
Gandhi, whose party is contesting the polls in Andhra Pradesh alone, said while Modi did "surgical strikes against the poor" his party will carry it out against poverty.
He accused Modi of creating two Indias -- one for the richest people "like Anil Ambani and Mehul Choksi" and another for poor farmers, labourers and unemployed youth.
"Our idea is to make one united India where everyone is happy. Modi wants to make two Indias... So we have decided in 2019 that the congress will carry out a surgical strike on poverty.
"If Modi can declare war on the poor and weak people of the country, we will declare war on poverty. We will give NYAY to the people of India. NYAY is our non-violent weapon against poverty," the Congress chief said.
He said the proposal of Congress to provide Rs 72,000 annually to the 20 per cent of the poorest was historic and would benefit five crore families and 25 crore individuals.
The beneficiaries would be identified using Aadhar and other technical assistance, he added.
Asserting that the Congress would implement the poll promise as it had done in the case of MNREGA and others in the past, he said "I am not Modi, I do not lie... He lied to you that he will give money to the poor people. He gave money to the richest in the land."
Devoting most part of his over 30 minute speech to target Modi, Gandhi said while the previous Congress-led UPA had created poverty eradication schemes, the prime minister "dismantled everything."
"He destroyed the pillars of MNREGA and the Food Security Act", the Congress chief charged.
On the special category status, a key issue in the state, he recalled the UPA's assurance of according a special status to Andhra Pradesh post its bifurcation and said the promise was made by none other than the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"...it was not just an individual who made the commitment, it was the Prime Minister of India...the commitment made by the PM of India on behalf of India," he said.
"Mr Modi has been Prime Minister for the past five years. And he has not fulfilled this commitment. And frankly, I am surprised parties in Andhra Pradesh are not aggressively pushing Modi for giving Andhra what it deserves," he said.
The previous UPA government had carried out various poverty eradication schemes like the Food Security Act, MNREGA and the pro-farmer land acquisition bill which had ensured "millions and millions came out of poverty," he said.
"In 2014 Modi came to power and started dismantling everything we did. He destroyed the pillars of MNREGA and Food Security Act.
"He started to hand over the MNREGA money to contractors rather than workers. He snatched away the Food Security Bill. And he systematically destroyed the land acquisition bill," Gandhi charged.
He also lashed out at Modi on demonetisation, and the GST, repeating his "Gabbar Singh Tax" charge.
Reiterating his allegation that Modi helped liquor baron Vijay Mallya, diamantaire Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi flee the country and his charge of a scam in the Rafael deal, Gandhi said "the chowkidar of the country stole from the country and gave it to Anil Ambani."
He did this because he took all money from the banks and gave to the richest. We will take the money given to Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and give it to the poor, Gandhi asserted.
He alleged the country witnessed the highest unemployment rate in five years during the NDA regime and Modi failed to create the two crore jobs a year that he promised.
The Congress chief said Dalits and minorities were being "threatened and attacked" all over the country.
People are murdered, women are raped and there is an atmosphere of fear. This is the politics of Modi. You know what happened to Rohit Vemula. The SC, ST Act has been diluted, he charged.
"The ultimate goal of Modi is destruction of our Constitution and we are never going to allow them," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)