Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the Congress will give Andhra Pradesh the special category status if the party is voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections this year. He made the statement in his address to the Indian diaspora at a cricket stadium in Dubai on Friday.

The Opposition leader, who is in the United Arab Emirates for a two-day visit, was received by the country’s Prime Minister and the ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tweeted the Dubai Media House. After the meeting, Gandhi said he was “committed to helping build an even stronger relationship” between the two countries.

In his address to the diaspora, Gandhi said that while humility and tolerance for different ideas, religions and communities are the values that bring together the people of the two countries, India has faced “four-and-a-half years of intolerance”.

Gandhi emphasised the role of Indian expatriates in the country’s development. “Without the help of the NRIs, it would be impossible for India to be where it is today,” he added. “In the last century, when we stood up and fought the British, the fight was led by an NRI called Mahatma Gandhi.”

He urged the audience to commit to standing together with the Congress “and solve problems back in India”.

Earlier in the day, in a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi told Indian workers that he wants to listen to their problems instead of telling his “Mann ki Baat”, which is the name of Modi’s monthly radio programme, PTI reported.

The Congress president told the labourers that his party was aware of the difficulties they face. “I realise you face several hardships,” he said in his address at the Jabel Ali labour colony. “You work all day, send money to your family back home. We want to talk to you.”

He said the massive structures in Dubai, including all the “tall buildings, large airports and metro, would not have been built without your contribution”. He told the workers that they had made Indians of all backgrounds proud. “You have illuminated the names of every religion, every state and every caste,” he added.

Gandhi – who was accompanied by Kerala leader Oommen Chandy, Indian Overseas Congress Chairperson Sam Pitroda and party leader Milind Deora on the visit – also met business leaders at a breakfast meeting. The Congress president also met members of the Indian Business and Professional Council and members of the Punjabi community.