Four months after his previous rally and after three dozen visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in poll-bound Gujarat, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday arrived in Ahmedabad with a slew of promises.
The Gandhi scion had last addressed a tribal rally in Dahod district bordering Madhya Pradesh on May 10, around the time Congress’ South Gujarat Adivasi leaders, including MLAs, had forced the BJP Government to put a halt on the much-publicised Par-Tapi-Narmada River-linking project in the face of huge protests.
Addressing what the party termed as a “Parivartan Sankalp Rally (resolve for a change)” at the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, he promised debt waivers to farmers up to Rs 3 lakh and free electricity to them and up to 300 units for non-agricultural consumers.
AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal has promised up to 300 units free for all consumers and a 12-hour uninterrupted power supply to farmers during the daytime. As against this, Union Minister Amit Shah on Sunday asserted at a rally that his party’s government was already providing 24-hour uninterrupted power to every village in the State.
Promising the sops to farmers, Rahul Gandhi asked the large gathering of the party’s rank and file down to the booth level, “The BJP government here will waive loans of top industrialists, but have you ever heard that they have waived loans of farmers?"
“Sardar Patel was the voice of the farmers. On one hand, the BJP prides itself in erecting the tallest statue of Sardar and on the other, it works against the interests of those for whom he fought for. If we come to power in Gujarat, we'll waive off farmers' debt up to Rs 3 lakh,” he said. Also, milk producers would be given a subsidy of Rs 5 a litre.
In another promise that is almost a copy-paste of Kejriwal’s guarantee, Gandhi promised an unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 a month, while simultaneously working on creating 10 lakh government jobs. Going a step further than AAP, the Congress leader promised that 50% of these government jobs would be reserved for women.
Rahul Gandhi promised a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those who succumbed to Covid-19 in Gujarat, claiming that some 3 lakh people had died of the dreaded virus in the State and the government was concealing the actual number. He added that LPG cylinders, which were now priced around Rs 1,000, would be given for Rs 500 each.
He also promised that as many as 3,000 English medium government schools would be opened in Gujarat and girls would be imparted free education.
On his day-long visit, Gandhi attended a prayer meeting at the Sabarmati Ashram to seek blessings before the Congress party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra on September 7.
Chief Spokesperson of the Gujarat Congress Manish Doshi told Free Press Journal that his party had prepared a three-month-long campaign for the State assembly polls scheduled for December.
He said while the veteran leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the overall convenor of the polls, and Gujarat affairs in-charge and former Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma were already there, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, besides a host of other leaders would also campaign for the party.
Doshi also said the first list of the Congress candidates was likely to be released by September 15.