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Rahul Gandhi hits out at Modi, says voice of Gujarat's youth can't be suppressed

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi with OBC leader Alpesh Thakor at the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 23, 2017.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi with OBC leader Alpesh Thakor at the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 23, 2017.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today launched one of his fiercest attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat and asserted that the voice of the youth in the poll-bound state could not be suppressed or bought.
 
Addressing a rally here, at which Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakor formally joined the Congress, Mr. Gandhi said the youth of Gujarat, whichever caste or community they belonged to, would no longer remain silent and their voices could not be "suppressed" or "purchased".
 
Elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly are due to be held in the next few weeks, and both the BJP, which has been in power for more than two decades, and the Congress, which is making a bid to regain power after years in the wilderness, are going all out to woo the voters.
 
In an effort to strengthen the anti-BJP camp, the Congress had recently invited Mr. Thakore, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to join its fold. 
 
Mr. Gandhi's remarks came just hours after the BJP suffered two jolts when, first, Narendra Patel, an aide of Mr. Hardik Patel, who had joined the ruling party yesterday along with two others, held a press conference late last night to say that he was offered Rs. 1 crore to join the BJP.
 
He said he had been given Rs. 10 lakhs as advance by Mr. Varun Patel, who had also joined the BJP with him, after they had met the BJP leadership together. He produced before journalists the Rs. 10 lakh in cash that he had allegedly received from Mr. Varun Patel, adding that he had been promised the remaining Rs. 90 lakh on Monday.
 
"But even if they give me the entire Reserve Bank (of India), they cannot buy me," Mr. Narendra Patel said.
 
Mr. Varun Patel was one of the key aides of Mr. Hardik Patel in the Patidar community's agitation for reservation in state government jobs. The third person who joined the BJP on Sunday was Ms. Reshma Patel, anotehr aide of Mr. Hardik Patel.
 
Mr. Narendra Patel said he had decided to take the money and display it before the media to expose Mr. Varun Patel and the BJP.
 
This morning, another Patidar leader, Nikhil Sawani, announced his resignation from the BJP, which he had joined a fortnight ago, citing unfulfilled promises made by the party to the community.
 
The BJP denied Mr. Narendra Patel's allegations and said it was all a conspiracy hatched by the Congress to embarass the ruling party.
 
At today's rally, organised by Mr. Thakor's organisation, Mr. Gandhi latched on to the bribery allegation made by Mr. Narendra Patel.
 
“This Gujarati voice is not an ordinary voice. This voice of Gujarat cannot be silenced or suppressed. You can offer any thing, one crore, 10 crore, 50 crore,  1,000 crore, the entire budget of India, the entire money in the world, but this Gujarati voice cannot be bought," Mr. Gandhi said.
 
 
Rahul Gandhi mocks Modi on demonetisation
During Mr. Gandhi's address, Mr Thakor had asked the crowd to remain silent and listen to the speech. At this, Mr. Gandhi said, “You want to make the crowd silent, Alpeshji. But they cannot remain silent. Modiji has harassed them so much that they cannot remain silent.”
 
“There are thousands of youths in Gujarat who cannot remain silent now. They belong to all castes. There are two more youths like you. They are Hardik and Jignesh. Both of them cannot remain silent,” he said.
 
He said there were attempts in the past, too, to suppress this voice, referring to the efforts by the then rulers to muzzle Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, who hailed from Gujarat.
 
“Sardar Patelji, Gandhiji were from this land and they used to protect the voice of Gujarat,” he said. “But today this government wants to suppress Gujarat’s voice. They are so scared that they want to buy this voice.
 
"Modiji, there is no price tag for this voice. Modiji, you cannot purchase Gujarat’s voice," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi began by saying that, for the first time, almost all sections of people in Gujarat were in agitation mode. He said that this was because, for the past 22 hours, the Gujarat government was working not for the people of the state but for just five or ten industrialists.
 
He went on to speak about the lack of enough jobs for the youth in the state and the rest of the country.
 
He said that while Mr. Modi goes regularly on radio to speak about his Mann Ki Baat, if the Congress were to be voted to power in Gujarat it would listen to the voice of the people and try and meet their aspirations. 
 
He said that, in Gujarat, education had been privatised in many cases and students had to pay huge amounts as fees, which they could ill afford. And when they pass out of these institutions, the state has no jobs to offer them, he said.
 
Similarly, he said the state's health infrastructure was dominated by the private sector, putting it out of the reach of the poor.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the government had written off loans worth Rs. 1.30 lakh crore taken by the industry, but did not want to waive the loans of farmers, who were reeling under debt. He spoke about the huge incentives offered to industries in the state and there were no signs that any of it had benefited the people of the state.
 
He also took yet another swipe at Mr. Modi for remaining silent on the allegations in media reports against BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's company which had allegedly registered a sharp rise in its revenues from just Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crore after the present government assumed office at the Centre in 2014. "He won't utter a word, this is the reality," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that, if voted to power, the Congress would provide a government in Gujarat that worked from Gandhinagar and for all sections of people and all communities, including the youth, women, farmers, workers. "Whatever I can do for the youth -- education, health, employment, I will do with all my heart and strength," he promised.
 
The Congress Vice-President also attacked the Modi government for the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes and for the "hasty" implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST). He said the BJP's version of the GST law was vastly different from what the Congress had proposed during its tenure in office and felt that the government would have to listen to the people and simplify the regime and reduce the number of tax slabs.
 
Descrbing GST as "Gabbar Singh Tax", in a reference to the villain in the blockbuster Hindi movie Sholay of 1975, he said the new system and the demonetisation had imposed untold misery on the people, especially small traders.
 
NNN
 
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