Method to the 'madness'? Congress Gujarat campaign begins with quirky posters
In the run up to the assembly elections in Gujarat, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on 4 September launched the party's election campaign in the state.
As part of the campaign, several posters which took digs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gujarat development model were put up across Ahmedabad. The posters, which are in Gujarati, claim that "Vikas gando thayo che (vikas has gone mad)”, have been put up by the Gir-Somnath wing of the the Youth Congress in the city.
“These posters have been put on the road leading to the airport. I don't know about other parts of the city or state, but these posters have been put up by Congress workers. The message in these posters reflects the reality of the hollow promises of development made by the BJP government,” confirmed Balubhai Patel, chairman of the organisation and election co-ordination committee.
Another senior Congress leader said that these posters have received phenomenal response and that the party is planning to use such quirky slogans to target the state of development in Gujarat during the course of their election campaign.
In fact, even the Congress vice president, while interacting with party workers in Ahmedabad, took pot shots at Gujarat's development model which he claimed had failed completely. According to him, the failure of this model would lead to Congress coming to power after the polls which are expected to be held later this year.
Further criticising the Gujarat model, he went on to claim that except for a few people no one has benefitted from this model of development including farmers, youth, small businessmen and shopkeepers.
Trying to boost the morale of his party workers, the Gandhi scion stressed that there is no dearth of issues that need to be highlighted to take on the BJP government. According to him, unemployment, demonetisation, GST, farmer distress, among other issues, should be raised by party workers to ensure support in Congress' favour.
Appealing to farmers
Calling the policies of state government as anti-farmer, Rahul spoke at length about how farmers have been completely alienated by the BJP government.
“Gujarat's farmers are under the debt of Rs. 36,000 crore. While Modi has given Tata Rs. 36,000 crore as bank loan and Rs. 60,000 crore in total for their Nano project, which is twice the debt of Gujarat's farmers. But has anyone seen a Nano on the roads of Gujarat? So, it is all about the priorities,” said Rahul according to ANI.
Further raising the issue of farmers, Gandhi accused the BJP of helping the corporates and claimed Congress to be the only party working for the welfare of farmers, poor and the weak.
“It is the fight of ideologies. The Bharatiya Janata Party works on the ideology of benefitting the corporate, whereas the Congress works for the welfare of the farmers, the poor and the weak. Anyone who works against this ideology will not be given space in the party.” said Rahul, according to ANI.
The effects of demonetisation
Appealing to the trading community, which forms a considerable part of Gujarat's population, the Gandhi scion added that if voted to power Congress would focus on reviving small and medium enterprises in the state and provide capital to small traders.
Considering how traders in Gujarat have rallied against the Goods and Services Tax, Rahul pointed how the Congress had demanded that the GST rates be kept at 18% instead of 28%. He said that traders in Gujarat were worst affected by the GST envisaged by the BJP.
गुजरात पूरे हिन्दुस्तान को रास्ता दिखा सकता है, गुजरात की ताकत यहाँ के छोटे businesses हैं, मगर गुजरात में उनकी मदद नहीं की जाती pic.twitter.com/3iXGM9uY3L— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) September 4, 2017
Being particularly critical of the Prime Minister's demonetisation exercise, the Gandhi scion said that former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had warned the government that there would be no benefit, but severe losses due to the note-ban exercise. “Our Prime Minister prefers to say his mann ki baat but does not like listening to others' mann ki baat,” he added.
रघुराम राजन जी ने सरकार को बताया कि नोटबंदी से कोई फायदा नहीं होगा, ज़बरदस्त नुकसान होगा,मगर हमारे PM को मन की बात कहना पसंद है, सुनना नहीं— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) September 4, 2017
The Congress vice president also spoke at length about media freedom and said that the media is being suppressed to not write against Modi. Comparing Modi's rule with a dictatorship, Rahul was quoted by ANI, “There are people in media who want to write against Modi, but it is the time of 'dictatorship', so they are suppressed and (become) meek under his rule.”
While interacting with party workers, Rahul went on to add that whoever will fight BJP and RSS on ground will be given a ticket to contest elections. He also assured the adivasi population of the state that the promises made by Congress on providing them land and rights would be honoured if voted to power.
Senior leader Ahmed Patel's high octane Rajya Sabha victory has breathed fresh life into the state unit of the party which is upbeat about ending BJP's 22-year rule in the state. Congress hopes that anti-incumbency and non-performance on multiple fronts will help it regain power in the state.
It remains to be seen whether the electorate would respond with similar optimism.