Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday evening used all ammunition at his disposal to target the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at a rally held at the Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC) ground.
While the capacity of the ground is around 200,000, only about 70,000 people turned up at the rally held on the last Sunday before the city goes to polls on April 24. The rally was meant to boost the chances of the Congress in the city. But the tepid response, which was indicative of the anti-incumbency wave in the city, only ended up further demoralising the party rank and file.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar were supposed to be the main speakers at the meeting, organised by the Congress' Mumbai unit. But Sonia did not turn up citing "health reasons" and Pawar because "there were no helicopters".
But sources say both leaders got to know the turnout would be poor so they skipped the event. Also, Pawar was not keen on sharing the dais with Rahul without Sonia being there. Rahul was roped in at the eleventh hour. The Gandhi scion came almost three hours late, forcing people to wait in the scorching sun.
Rahul began by saying people won't be fooled by the fake development model of Gujarat. "It is nothing but a toffee or balloon model... it will rupture soon. This election is important because it is a fight between two thoughts — one of the Congress that unites the country and another of Modi that will divide the country. The BJP is a party that propagates fights between Hindus and Muslims and other castes as well. We on the other hand respect all caste and communities." He said he had immense faith in the people of Mumbai and knew that they would vote for Congress candidates on April 24.
Rahul said the Modi government in Gujarat handed over 35,000 acres of land to the Adani group at Re1 psm. "Whose land did he give to Adani? The land belonged to poor people and farmers. What did they get? Nothing."
He went on to say that the BJP in the past had Atalji, Advaniji, Sushmaji. "Now there is only one ji, Modiji. He will work only for a few capitalists and the rest of the people would be deprived of development. Gujarat spent only 5% of its budget on the development of Scs/STs. I doubt if the money was really spent...
"On the other hand, our party is for inclusive growth. We respect poor people and minorities and take their advice while framing policies. Modi is autocratic... he won't listen to you, he will come here and teach you. He is an arrogant person."
He said the Congress wanted the poor to make progress. "No one wants to send their kids to schools where the quality of education is poor. Even auto drivers want to send their children to English medium schools. It is our party's responsibility to generate jobs for these youths. They should also go to foreign countries to get higher education and get the opportunity to work in corporate offices. We will not work for certain sections of the society. We are committed for inclusive growth."
Rahul said he wanted to develop the infrastructure of Mumbai on the lines of Delhi. "We want to start monorail and metro projects. Whatever development happened in Gujarat happened because of the hard work of the people. But Modi doesn't want to give them any credit. Maharashtra will develop because of its people."
"I saw a hoarding in Delhi where Modi talks of empowering women. But the poster did not have a single woman. How can a person who snoops on a woman citing security reasons protect our sisters and mothers. He misused the police force for his own benefit and now talks about empowering women. It is all false and fake."
"The Congress wants to focus on industry. At present everything is made in China. We want to change that. In the next five years, people should used only made-in-India products. We should be the next superpower."