Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday launched his party’s election campaign in Madhya Pradesh by taking a dig at Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Gandhi drew a parallel between Chouhan and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, saying the chief minister made announcements at the same pace that Tendulkar took runs, PTI reported. He was addressing a public gathering in Bhopal after embarking on a roadshow in the state capital.
“Whenever he [Tendulkar] played any innings, everybody was assured that he will score at least 50, 60, 70 or 100 runs,” Gandhi said. “Here, in Madhya Pradesh, there is a run machine known as the state chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan who makes announcements with the same pace.”
Gandhi alleged that Chouhan’s government had made 21,000 announcements so far “but nothing happened”. “It churns out promises, hollow promises,” Hindustan Times quoted Gandhi as saying. He claimed that the state ranked first in unemployment, rape, malnutrition and crimes against women.
Gandhi also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “hollow promises”. “On the one hand, PM Modi makes a hollow promise that farmers will get the right prices... What he says gets repeated here,” Gandhi said.
He also accused the Centre of taking a soft stand on industrialists who don’t repay loans. “If an industrialist doesn’t repay a loan, it is called a non-performing asset,” he said. “But when it is a farmer who misses on repayments, he is called a defaulter,” Gandhi said, while promising a farm loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh if the Congress is voted back to power.
Gandhi promised that his party will form a government for the public and party workers. “If a party leader’s doors aren’t open for party workers, he will not be chief minister or minister for even 15 minutes.”
Gandhi said ground-level workers will be considered for nomination as candidates and preference will not be given to sons of party leaders for the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, PTI reported. “The old system of distributing tickets won’t be followed this time around,” Gandhi said in response to a question raised by a party worker. “Son of any person [Congress leader] won’t be picked up as nominee.” He also claimed that the party wanted to field the most women candidates this election.
Those who join the Congress from other political parties will not get tickets, he added. “Those who parachute in our party can come in happily. But ticket won’t drop like a parachute for them.”
On Monday, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party said the Congress was pushing a “soft Hindutva” line in the state after posters showing Gandhi pouring holy water on a lingam, a representation of Hindu deity Shiva, appeared in Bhopal.