Rahul puts best foot forward in Gujarat campaigning


rg_somnathtemp09Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi ended his two-day tour of poll-bound Gujarat with a promise to waive farmers’ loans and provide free education in government-aided colleges if the Congress party comes to power in the state.

Campaigning in Lathi in the Patidar-dominated Amreli district on the last day of his two-day tour, he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Modiji waived loans worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore of his five-ten industrialists friends, but Modiji and (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitleyji say that it is not their policy to waive loans of farmers when they ask for it,” he claimed. “Modiji talked for 22 years about farmers, but you have not got anything, your land has been taken away, your water is diverted to industrialists, and you do not get crop insurance,” he said at a poll meeting.

“We make this promise to you that we will frame a policy within 10 days of forming government in Gujarat to waive your loans,” he said.
Gandhi also promised free college education in government-aided colleges and said that fees in other colleges will be reduced by 80 percent if the Congress is voted to power in the state.

Unfazed by the controversy over his visit to the Somnath temple, he visited Gadhdha Swaminarayan temple and offered prayers.

Hours after BJP’s national spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao on November 30 demanded that the Congress leader himself declare his religion, Rahul said that he comes from a family of Shiv bhakts but he doesn’t do “dalaali” over religion for political gains.

“My grandmother (Indira Gandhi) and my family are Shiv bhakts (devotees). But we keep such things private. We generally do not speak about them. Because, we think it is a very personal matter and we don’t need anyone else’s certificate about it… We don’t want to do ‘dalaali’ over it. We do not want to use it for political purposes too,” Rahul said at a closed-door meeting with traders in Amreli. A video of his interaction was shared with the media by local Congress leaders.

The controversy arose on November 29 when Rahul’s name had appeared in a register meant for “non-Hindu” visitors at Gujarat’s Somnath temple after he went there to pay obeisance before rejoining the Congress poll campaign in Gujarat. Rahul alleged that after he went inside the temple and signed the visitors’ book, some persons from the BJP people wrote his name in the second book.

Facing flak from BJP leaders over the issue, the Congress had said that Rahul was “not only a Hindu, but a ‘janeu-dhari’ Hindu (one who wears the sacred thread)”.