Amethi: Visiting his home turf Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP government at the Centre of damaging institutions like the Election Commission and the judiciary.
“Five years ago, before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the different institutions of India, be they the Judiciary, Election Commission or the education system, were independent,” he said at a meeting of lawyers. “The judicial system used to be openly for the truth,” he said. At another gathering, Gandhi attacked the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal, alleging that it paid an inflated price for the military aircraft and helped industrialist Anil Ambani bag a huge contract from the French manufacturer.
The charges have been repeatedly denied by the Modi government and the Reliance Group. Gandhi’s visit coincided with the appointment of his sister Priyanka Gandhi as the Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East, the region in which his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency falls. Against the backdrop of an alliance between Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party that has excluded the Congress, Gandhi made it clear that his party was all set to give a tough fight in the state in the coming Lok Sabha election.
“Now the Congress will work to install its own chief minister here. We will form the next government at the Centre, and will contest with full strength in UP,” he said. “After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP came to power at the Centre, it has started attacking every institution of India. It has started sending people of a particular ideology into these institutions,” he said at the lawyers’ meeting. “Earlier your job was to ensure that people get justice. Now your responsibilities have become two-fold. First, you have to ensure that people get justice, and second, you have to look after your own institution and defend it,” he said.
He claimed the “final target” of the Bharatiya Janata Party is the Constitution and democracy. “If there is any institution which can preserve the independence of India, it is the judiciary,” he said. Speaking at an event in Paraiya Naseerabad village, Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi helped Anil Ambani get a contract of Rs 30,000 crore from the Dassault, the French company that manufactures Rafale aircraft.
“Modiji says don’t make me the Prime Minister, make me the chowkidar (watchman). But the chowkidar has taken Rs 30,000 crore from the Indian Air Force, and given it to Anil Ambani.” The Modi government has said it has nothing to do with the deal signed between Rafale manufacturer Dassault and the Ambani Group. Under India’s offset policy, foreign firms entering into a defence contract must give business to Indian entities.
The Ambani Group has also said the business it will get from Dassault is less than the claimed Rs 30,000 crore. Gandhi urged people to remove Modi and bring in a Congress government that works for the poor and the farmers. “I will stand by you, wherever you need me. Not only in Amethi, but in the entire country. Wherever I am needed, I will be present for you,” he said. Addressing village `pradhans’ at Fursatganj, Gandhi accused the Centre of trying to end the rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGS. He also criticised the government over demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it has hurt small traders.