Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi “avoided eye contact” when he asked questions about the deal (File)
Marking the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Maharashtra’s Wardha, where Gandhi spent several years.
Mahatma Gandhi aimed to unite the country but PM Modi was working to divide it, the Congress president said, in another sharp attack building up to the 2019 national election just months away.
“You tried PM Modi, he broke your trust. Now trust Congress and Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology to take India forward,” he told a large gathering, referring to the Rafale jet deal row.
The PM, he said, should explain to the country why Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was chosen over state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as the offset partner for Rafale maker Dassault.
He alleged that PM Modi “avoided eye contact” when he asked questions about the deal in Parliament because he had “lied” to the country.
“He (Modi) is not a chowkidar (watchman), but bhagidar (partner, of capitalists),” Rahul Gandhi charged.
The Congress president has been attacking the Prime Minister and the government on the deal for 36 Rafale jets from France. The attacks amplified after French ex-president Francois Hollande said in an interview that France had no role in choosing Anil Ambani’s inexperienced Reliance Defence as the offset partner in India.
Rahul Gandhi also took on the government on farmer protests as thousands were stopped from entering Delhi today by policemen who used tear gas and water cannons.
“The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government waived loans worth Rs 3.20 lakh crore of capitalists who were close to it, but did not write off the debts of farmers,” he said.
“Look at cellphones, footwear, clothing, gadgets, everything is Made in China. PM made false promises. BJP and PM can’t ensure employment avenues. Congress would wholeheartedly work and provide you the same. We want days where phones read Made in Wardha, Made in India. We need to stand with our farmers and change things around.”
The “thieves of India” turned their black money into white through the back door while the common people had to queue up outside banks to deposit Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes (after demonetisation), he said.
The party has gathered for a meeting of its top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee, at Sevagram, Gandhi’s ashram.
In a resolution aimed at a string of elections ahead, the Congress called for a “new freedom struggle” to combat the forces of divisiveness.
“The CWC underscores the blatant hypocrisy of the RSS that vilified and rejected Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime and which today has brazenly proclaimed itself to be his champion. It is its ideology that was responsible for spreading the atmosphere of hate that lead to the Mahatma’s tragic assassination,” the resolution said.