As Congress president Rahul Gandhi kick-started his Karnataka campaign on Saturday, he took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his governance failures were the result of him ‘looking in the rear-view mirror.’
Addressing a rally at Hospet in Ballari (earlier spelt as Bellary) district, Rahul criticised Modi for not speaking on national-level issues during his speech in Parliament.
“The country is facing issues related to unemployment, farmers’ issues, adivasis, Dalit issues. People in big cities face other issues. But in his entire speech, Narendra Modi did not speak of the coming future. He did not speak on providing employment, helping out the farmers,” the Congress leader said.
“The country does not want to listen its prime minister talk about the past, but about the future,” he added.
Rahul compared Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s rule with that of Modi’s. “When Siddaramaiah drives the car of Karnataka, he looks in the forward direction. When there’s a car approaching, he sees it. Modi ji, instead, looks in the rear-view mirror when he drives a car. He looks in the rearview mirror the entire day. When there’s a pothole, the car meets with an accident. Modiji, you have to look forward, not backward,” he said.
Rahul lashed out at Modi for using the Congress as an “excuse”. “The country has not elected you to have excuses, or to look in the rear-view mirror. Because when you look into rear-view mirror, you make mistakes like GST and demonetisation. When you look into it, you give ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ to the nation,” he told the gathering.
The Congress president further accused Modi of harming “crores of people”, and making small businesses “disappear.” He said, “Learn from Siddaramaiah. He looks ahead and doesn’t make excuses. He waives off farmer loans, provides Indira canteen and helps the poor and needy,” he said.
Rahul then criticised Modi’s remarks on bringing change in Gujarat. “Modi ji said that he changed Gujarat. He toured the entire country and claimed that he changed Gujarat. But I saw the reality with my own eyes when I toured the state. If anybody has changed Gujarat, then it is the farmers, small entrepreneurs, and labourers.”
Rahul, in his address, repeated his claim that under the Modi regime, the government favoured a handful of industrialists. “One industrialist got 40 acres of land for Rs 1 per acre. In three months, he sold it for Rs 3000 per acre. Modi gave Rs 33,000 crore for Tata Nano factory. Despite giving away thousand acres of land, electricity, water, the factory does not manufacture one Nano now. In the entire country, you will not find Nano anywhere,” he said.
“In the amount of money that Modi gave to that one company, Congress ran India through the MGNREGA,” the Gandhi scion claimed.
Rahul alleged that the BJP’s previous government in Karnataka had “broken the worldwide record of corruption,” and praised the Congress for replacing “Modi-(BS)Yeddyurappa” in the state.
Calling the Rafale deal “the biggest issue” in India today, Rahul said, “Modi went to France and changed the contract himself. First the contract was given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). HAL has been making aircrafts for the country for 70 years. If Bengaluru stands on its feet today, it is because of HAL. He snatched the contract from HAL and gave it to his friends”
Rahul then reiterated the questions raised by the Congress over the deal. “We have three questions: On what basis did you give the contract to your friends and steal the future from the youth of Benglauru?”
“The next question is, did the price of per aircraft increase or decrease in the new contract? And, when Modi took this decision, did he take the permission from Cabinet Committee on Security? His speech went for one hour (in the Parliament), but he did not utter one word on Rafale,” he added.
Rahul said that as Modi stands with Yedyurappa in Karnataka, BJP is facing “land scam, medical scam, and mining scam.”
“In our ruling, there was no scam in Karnataka. I request you to give support those who are true to you. The Congress has been truthful to you and shown how work can be done. We gave you Article 371J of the Constitution (which provides for special status for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region).”
“But the most important fact is, we drive by looking forward; Modi drives by looking in the rear view mirror,” he said.
“The next time Congress comes in power, we’ll do more work than we did in the past five years. But we will never credit just only one man for Karnataka’s progress. We’ll tell you that it is the poor, farmers, small business owners, youth, and the women who make the state progress.”
He told the crowd that despite being Karnataka’s chief minister, Siddaramaiah “stands with you, uses your power, and together we bring change in Karnataka.” “The difference is, we respect your power and we work for you,” Rahul said.
As Rahul spoke at the first rally in his Karnataka campaign, he spoke of the support people of the state had shown his mother Sonia Gandhi about two decades ago. “I will never forget that when we needed you, you were there to hug Sonia and support her. Whenever you will need me, just call me and I’ll be here. We will all make Karnataka prosper,”
Sonia had similarly landed in the Ballari about 19 years ago to contest her maiden election from the constituency. It was a high-pitched, high-profile and vitriolic campaign, in which she defeated the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj by 56,000 votes.