On the second day of his campaign for Gujarat elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hit out at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for describing the goods and services tax (GST) as “Gabbar Singh Tax”.
“It is natural for those who have looted all their lives to remember dacoits. Under their ‘Grand Stupid Thoughts’ they want basic necessities of the poor to be taxed at 18%. At the same time they want cigarettes and alcohol to be cheaper. What logic is this,” Modi said in an address to a rally in Morbi, a hub for the ceramics industry.
He said while the Congress was seeking OBC (other backward class) votes it should explain why it did not allow the OBC Commission to get constitutional status all these years. “We brought in the move; it was passed by the Lok Sabha but stalled in the Rajya Sabha, where Congress has a majority,” the prime minister said.
Modi said that the issue would be taken up in the upcoming Parliament session and added that the government would ensure that OBCs get their due. “I want to assure you, Congress may try to throw up roadblocks, but I am committed to ensure their designs fail. Parliament is meeting soon and we are going to bring that issue on the floor of the House again. We want to give OBC communities their due,” he said.
Modi appealed to the people of Gujarat not to let go of an opportunity where they could benefit from the rule of “their man in Delhi”, promising them that if they elect BJP to power, the entire country’s government would be at their service.
“It is the first time that you have got an opportunity of having your man sitting in Delhi… Do not let this opportunity slip away,” he said.
Traditionally a BJP stronghold, Morbi in the Saurashtra region has recently emerged as the epicentre of the agitation by Patels and other members from the trading and business community. Modi, who addressed three rallies in Saurashtra on Monday, returned to the region to address three more rallies at Morbi, Prachi in Somnath district and Palitana in Bhavnagar district, before moving to South Gujarat for a rally in Navsari.
Modi said the BJP had reversed the chronic water shortage that Saurashtra and Kutch regions faced by laying pipelines and bringing in Narmada water.
Speaking at Prachi, Modi took another swipe at Gandhi, who, incidentally, was at the Somanth temple at that time. He said Rahul’s grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, had written to the then President Rajendra Prasad advising him not to attend a function organized by Sardar Patel to celebrate the reconstruction of the Somnath temple.
“You had a problem against Sardar for rebuilding Somnath as well as the Narmada project. This is the land of the brave. The land of Somnath will not forget or forgive,” he said.
At Navsari, Modi took a dig at the Congress party for its dynastic politics and said, “There are three elections going on—one in UP local bodies, another one in Gujarat and the third one is for the Congress president. In the first two the BJP is sure to win. And in the third one, no one except one family will win.”
Meanwhile, Gandhi promised that the Congress will waive farm loans within 10 days of coming to power in Gujarat.
“Modiji and Jaitleyji say it is not their policy to waive farm loans. They will let a farmer die but won’t raise the minimum support price for crops… Come December, when we form the government, I will do it within 10 days,” Gandhi told a gathering at Visavadar in Saurashtra.
Gandhi also launched a social media campaign, “Gujarat Mange Jawab” (Gujarat demands answers), where he will pose one question everyday to Modi. His first question was on Modi’s promise made during the 2012 Gujarat elections to provide 50 lakh new houses in five years. “You have built 4.72 lakh houses in these five years. Please tell us whether you will take 45 more years to complete this promise,” Gandhi said.
The two-phase Gujarat elections will take place on 9 and 14 December while the counting of votes is scheduled for 18 December.