With just 10 days left for Assembly elections in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have stepped up campaigning in the state. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed multiple rallies across the state.
At his first rally, in Morbi, Modi targeted the Congress. “They have looted a lot from the people already,” he said. “I am here to give every penny back to the poor.”
“When Indira [Gandhi] Ben came to Morbi, I remember there was a photo of her in Chitralekha Magazine with a handkerchief over her nose because of the foul smells,” Modi said. The picture was taken after floods in the district, he said, calling the Congress anti-poor and accusing it of being elitist. “For the Jansangh and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the streets of Morbi are fragrant, it’s the fragrance of humanity.”
He claimed the Congress party was “anti-Narmada”. “The main issue in Kutch and Saurashtra when we came to power was water shortage,” he said. “The BJP government changed this and got waters of the Narmada to these regions.”
Modi told the crowd he had “fought for the Narmada against the government of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, which was anti-Narmada”.
“When you vote, vote for development only. The people of Gujarat have one of their own sitting in Delhi, who is always working for the well-being of Gujarat,” he said.
He said only those who have looted the country could think about dacoits, in an obvious reference to Gandhi’s recent remarks that the Goods and Services Tax is ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’.
During his rally at the Prachi village near Somnath, Modi also asked Gandhi why he was visiting the Somnath temple. He said that Jawaharlal Nehru had opposed the idea of building a temple there, The Times of India reported.
Gandhi, who also has rallies scheduled in Gir Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar later on Wednesday, started his campaign with a temple visit.
“Today, some people are remembering Somnath. I have to ask them, have you forgotten your history?” Modi said. “Your family members, our first PM, was not happy with the idea of a temple being built there.”
Modi will also address rallies in Palitana in Bhavnagar and at Navsari in South Gujarat.
Meanwhile, Gandhi criticised the BJP’s 22-year rule in Gujarat. “22 salon ka hisaab, Gujarat mange jawaab (Gujarat demands answers for 22 years of BJP rule),” he wrote on Twitter. “First question to the prime minister on the state of affairs in Gujarat - in 2012, he promised to provide 50 lakh new houses, but provided 4.72 lakh in five years,” Gandhi wrote. “Will the prime minister tell whether it will take another 45 years to fulfill the promise?”
Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader, is also expected to hold a rally in Rajkot, the constituency of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, and in Morbi, Somnath, Junagadh and Himmatnagar, Mint reported.
The two-phase Gujarat elections will take place on December 9 and December 14. Counting of votes is scheduled for December 18.