Valsad, Feb 14: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday kickstarted the Lok Sabha poll campaign in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a rally in tribal-dominated Laldungari area under Dharampur taluka of Valsad district, in extreme southern part of the western state.
Apart from his attacks on Mr Modi on issues like Rafale deal, demonetisation, farmers' loan-waiving and land acquisition, he also promised that on being voted to power in the next election, his party would change and simplify the GST regime and also bring the Income Guarantee scheme for poor people.
Starting his speech with direct allegations on Mr Modi about Rafale deal, he also led people in shouting slogans like Chowkidar Chor Hai (The guard himself is the thief).
He claimed that as per the Defence and Air Force documents, it was clear that Mr Modi had snatched the Rafale deal from the government-run HAL and got it allotted to industrialist Anil Ambani, who was already under Rs 45,000 crore debt.
'Even the then French President Francois Hollande had later confirmed it. Now, the whole country and the world is saying that the guard is the thief, but Modi ji is not saying anything. When he spoke on the issue in Parliament for 1.5 hours, he could not face me or look into my eyes. Neither did he reply to my four queries about the deal,' Mr Gandhi said.
The Congress president said that the government had not only done the act of 'burglary' in Rafale deal, but it had done it in many other ways. It had waived around Rs 3.5 lakh crore loan of around 15 industrialists, he added.
Mr Ambani has Rs 45,000 crore debt, while Nirav Modi and Mehul Chowksi fled with Rs 35000 crore and Vijay Malya with Rs 10000 crore, while Lalit Modi fled with thousands of crores of rupees, he alleged.
'But, the BJP government can't waive the loans of the farmers of Gujarat and other states ruled by it. Congress did it as per its promise in Chattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan where the earlier CM's were saying that there was no money for it. We had also promised farmer loan waiver for Gujarat in last election and then BJP had alleged us of lying,' he said adding that there was no dearth of funds for it.
He alleged that the Modi government was not concerned with the issues and problems of farmers or tribal people.
'It was bringing various projects like Bharatmala, Bullet Train and Industrial Corridor and no one was against them, but permission should be sought from the farmers and tribal people before the acquisition of their land and proper compensation- four times the market price- should be paid to them, as per the Land Acquisition Act passed by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government at the Centre,' said Mr Gandhi.
'Also as per the law, the land should be returned, if nothing was done on it in five years. Our government led by Bhupesh Vaghel in Chhattisgarh has done so by returning land acquired by Tatas in Bastar region. We are also doing so in Rajasthan and MP. But Modi ji was not implementing this law in Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states. The Bharatmala scheme has become Bharat-mara scheme, as the land was being forcibly taken,' he added.
Mr Gandhi said that there should be development and roads should be constructed, but the voices of farmers and tribal people could not be crushed for it.
Talking about demonetisation, he reiterated that Mr Ambani or any other billionaire was not seen in the queues to get their notes exchanged during it but all the honest common people were forced to do so.
'All the corrupt and dishonest ones went in to the banks from the back-door and converted there black money in to white. The bank of Amit Shah and Jay Shah got Rs 700 crore of scrapped notes exchanged,' he alleged.
After that, the GST which he termed as Gabbar Singh Tax was clumsily implemented and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley supposed that all the small and medium scale businessmen were tax evaders and thieves. Congress if voted to power would change this and make it simpler and one tax system.
He also said that his party was working on the concept of income guarantee for the past 3-4 months.
'It was a historic thing like the white or green revolution or the computer revolution that happened during erstwhile Congress regimes. On winning the election, we would implement the income guarantee, under which direct transfer of money would be done in the accounts of poor people,' he said, quipping that it would be like how Mr Modi transferred Rs 30,000 crore directly to Mr Ambani in Rafale deal.
'During the recent announcement about farmers' assistance in Parliament, under which only about Rs three per day per person or Rs 17.50 per family per day would be given to farmers, BJP members continued to clap for so long that I became surprised. It was such a meager amount, which was insulting for the farmers.
'When our government would implement guaranteed income scheme the amount transferred in to accounts of poor people won't be like Rs three or Rs 17.50,' he said.
Mr Gandhi also took a jibe at Mr Modi for his radio address to the nation and said that he has asked his leaders to hear the Mann ki Baat of the common man and act accordingly, taking it as an order, rather than making them listen to his Mann ki Baat.
Talking about Gujarat, he said that as the two great sons of this state Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi had shown the way to the nation, Gujarat would show the way to the nation again.
The AICC president also said that he liked the food and people of Gujarat and wanted to visit the state more often. He reiterated that under the BJP rule, farmers and tribal people of Gujarat were facing oppression and only 15 to 20 people were getting benefited. (UNI)