Holding a massive unplanned road show in the Patidar-dominated and BJP bastion of Mehsana, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Monday evening targetted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking why is the ‘chowkidar’ or gatekeeper of the country silent on “immense and unbelievable profit” in Jay Shah’s company.
During the last leg of the fourth and last of his three-day visit to the poll-bound state, Rahul Gandhi was welcomed by huge crowds in the region that is said to be the bastion of the ruling BJP party.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) Vice President, who was visiting the north part of Gujarat, was welcomed by massive crowds, mostly dominated by the Patidar community, when his unplanned mega road show reached the Modhera cross
roads in Mehsana town. People were not letting his bus move forward as they wanted to shake hands with the Gandhi scion.
Mehsana is the hometown and the constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Mehsana is also the district of Vadnagar, the hometown of Prime Minister Modi. People flooded the streets during Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the town amidst slogans of ‘Jay Sardar’.
During his roadshow, when Gandhi was shaking hands with the Mehsana youth, he asked for the Gandhi cap with the inscription of ‘Jay Sardar’, which has been worn by the Patidar youth since the Patidar agitation. When he was handed one, he wore it till the end of his road show.
Gandhi began his speech with ‘Jay Sardar’, ‘Jay Bhima’, greetings used by the Patidar and the Scheduled Caste (SC) communities respectively.
He said: “Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore are just symbols. They are symbols of your voice. Nobody can shut your voice. Earlier, the British tried to curb your voice, but just two sons of Gujarat sent them away, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.”
Gandhi said: “The BJP is snatching away your money, your power, your land and giving it to a handful of industrialists, around 10. Everybody other than these 10 is agitating in Gujarat. When I visited Surat, hundreds of people came up to me and said, ‘We dont know which part of the country our Prime Minister Narendra Modi was talking about when he was saying all over the country that he had wiped out corruption from Gujarat. Every morning the police turn up at our doorsteps asking for bribe.”
Taking a jibe at the Prime Minister, Gandhi asked, “Why is the ‘chowkidar’ (gatekeeper) of the country, who said ‘I won’t indulge in corruption and won’t allow anybody else to indulge in it’, silent on the unbelievable growth of Jay Shah’s company profit. Any good Gujarati businessman knows that nobody can turnaround a Rs 50,000 company into an Rs 80 crore profit-making company within a couple of months. Why is the ‘chowkidar’ silent on the SEBI notice issued to the Gujarat Chief Minister? The country wants to know Pradhan Mantriji, are you the chowkidar or bhagidar? (The country want to know Mr Prime Minister, are you the gatekeeper or a participant in the corruption).”
Rahul Gandhi continued his attack on Modi. He said, “And when anybody wants to voice their issues, he says that I will beat them up while going into their homes. But your voice cannot be curbed. No power in the world can curb the voice of Gujarat. When some leaders in our party said that we will avenge, I tell them ‘no’. Revenge is not our thinking, it maybe the thinking of the BJP and the RSS. We won’t ever take to revenge.”
Continuing he said, “We won’t tolerate if anybody will insult the position of the Prime Minister, because that position is given by the people and we respect that position. But the present government has failed on many fronts. China is a huge employment generator, when I asked the cabinet Minister how much employment the Indian government is providing, sheepishly he answered only 450 per day.”
“But I want to change that, I want to see huge employment in the country. I want to see Mehsana youth seeing products having labels of ‘Made in Mehsana, Made in Gujarat’. But that cannot happen through this Goods and Services Tax (GST). Since 22 years, you have developed a habit of listening to another’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (Referring to Modi). We will change that. I determinedly say that we are forming the next government and we will change your habit. The next government, your government will listen to your ‘Mann Ki Baat'” Gandhi concluded.
Earlier, in Becharaji, Rahul Gandhi told a large gathering that just as demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) were launched by the NDA government at midnight, Gabbar Singh, the notorious villain of the popular film “Sholay”, too attacked people at midnight.
Interestingly, one of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members, Narendra Patel, was seen on the dais with him in Becharaji village.
Gandhi continued, “During my visit to the state people have been pleading to me, with folded hands, saying please save us from Modiji. GST has crushed people. The present GST still needs to be restructured. The common man’s day-to-day commodities should be exempted from GST. There should be one single GST.”
The Gandhi scion, on the last day of his visit to north Gujarat, visited the World Heritage site of the step-well in Patan, Ran-ki-Vaav. On his way from Patan to Becharaji, he met farmers, farm labourers in Mela village, and also took some selfies with them.
Earlier in Patan, he was warmly greeted by villagers on his visit to Kungher village. He even mingled with the local children and offered them sweets. Later, he visited the native village of a BJP cabinet Minister in Gujarat, Dilip Thakore, in Harij. People turned up in huge numbers to greet the Congress leader, who broke the security barricades to meet them.
In Harij, he also became part of a magician’s performance. Gandhi remarked, “Jadugars (magicians) have been earning money through tricks and Modiji too has been doing the same in 22 years.”