PM Narendra Modi on Monday mounted a fierce attack on Congress and dared it to fight one election on the agenda of development.
“The party only indulges in communal and casteist agenda to win elections… This election is a battle of ‘Vikasvad’ (pro-development agenda) for us, but for them it is the battle of ‘Vanshvad’ (nepotism). I assure that Vikasvaad will emerge victorious in this battle,” he said.
He said it while addressing a massive gathering of BJP workers at ‘Gujarat Gaurav Sammelan’ at Bhat in Gandhinagar.
Modi’s was an aggressive riposte to the intense ‘Vikas gando thayo che (developmet has gone crazy)’ campaign on social media and in public meetings by Rahul Gandhi and BJP’s other opponents to run down the party’s development plank. “Hoon vikas chu, hoon Gujarat chu (I am development, I am Gujarat),” Modi asserted as he concluded his 50-minute speech to the saffron faithful.
The combative response made it clear that the social media blitz trashing BJP’s claims of development under Modi’s chief ministership has failed to get the saffron party dilute its development plank. In fact, Modi, who has been projected as ‘vikas purush’ by his supporters, dared Congress to fight elections on the development agenda.
The PM also made a conspicuous effort to assuage resentment, especially among traders, over the implementation of GST, stressing that the BJP-controlled Centre could not be singled out for the formulation and implementation of the tax reform.
“All political parties and state governments of India took the decision on GST. It was not a decision taken by Narendra Modi alone. (Congress-ruled) state governments of Punjab and Meghalaya were also stakeholders. Congress does not have any right to spread lies in the name of GST,” Modi said.
Simultaneously, however, Modi emphasised that the Centre would not be found wanting in addressing shortcomings and drawbacks as they become evident, adding that many changes were introduced after reviewing the working of GST over three months. “This is a new tax regime after independence. If there are any loopholes, the government is making an attempt to rectify it. I am not saying the word ‘promise’, I am saying ‘attempts’,” he said.
Modi assured businessmen that there would no witch-hunting under the garb of GST. “Some people are instilling fear in the minds of traders that Modi will dig out your old records. I assure traders that your old records will not be analysed. This is BJP, not Congress,” he said.
Speaking before the massive gathering which he described as one of the largest he had addressed in the country, Modi also evoked Gujarati ‘asmita’ or pride by alleging that Congress had always hated Gujarat and had denied the state its due. “Gujarat polls are round the corner and Congress has developed fever once again. Gujarat has been an eyesore for the party and the family. I won’t repeat what they did to Sardar Patel, his daughter Maniben and Morarji Desai,” the PM said in an attempt to tap into the resentment in certain quarters about the perceived raw deal for Gujarati veterans from the Congress leadership.
Modi also targeted the Congress over the resignation of party leader Madhavsinh Solanki, who as foreign minister was alleged to have sent a letter to his then Swiss counterpart to scuttle the Bofors probe. Solanki was made the scapegoat in order to protect the interests of the family. Modi also alleged that while Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation of Sardar Sarovar dam, Congress did not pursue it as it was conceived by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“You did not waste any opportunity to strike. When I was the CM and you were in power at the Centre, you hatched a conspiracy to put me in jail. You knew that you will not be able to do that until (BJP president) Amit Shah was put behind bars, so you jailed him,” Modi said. The PM did not shy away from addressing the issue of demonetisation, a prominent theme in the opposition’s arsenal. Defending scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Modi said the dramatic decision had already brought unaccounted money worth Rs 3 lakh crore into banks and an exercise was on to establish the ownership of the huge deposit.
“As many as 2.1 lakh shell companies were caught and shut down. Out of 2.1 lakh, we took a sample of 5,000 companies and found that these shell companies had deposited Rs 4,000 crore in banks after demonetisation. That was the money of poor and middle class people of society,” Modi said.
He targeted the Congress leadership over corruption, highlighting that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were accused in the National Herald case and were on bail. “The mother and son are the leaders of this ‘jamanati party’. The whole party is on bail. How can these corrupt leaders teach the lesson of development to Gujarat?” he asked.