Launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over a host of issues, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi called upon his party workers to vanquish the ruling Trinamool Congress and bring the party to power in West Bengal.
On a day’s trip to the state, Gandhi reached out to jute mill workers assuring them that he would take up their cause in parliament.
Even as Modi and Banerjee inked the Land Boundary agreement and flagged off cross-border bus services in Dhaka, Gandhi questioned the bonhomie between the two leaders.
Addressing Congress workers in the city’s Netaji Indoor Stadium, Gandhi attacked Banerjee for pulling out of then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in 2011.
“When Manmohan Singh went to Dhaka and asked her to accompany, Mamata ji said ‘no’ asserting she wanted ‘ekla chalo re’ (go your own way alone). But now with Modi, she is not singing ‘ekla chalo re’.
“Why is this friendship between Modi and Mamata? What is the reason of this friendship, you all know the answer,” he said.
Gandhi lashed out at Banerjee for stunting the growth of Bengal and unleashing violence on political rivals.
“Both Modi and Mamata ji make only promises. Mamata has been saying industry is coming to Bengal, but I ask, has a single unit been set up here?
“She says youth will get jobs but there are over one crore jobless youth in Bengal,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi took a dig at Banerjee’s ‘whimsical’ ways, saying she has misinterpreted Rabindranath Tagore’s masterpiece “Ekla Chalo re”.
“She has misinterpreted ‘ekla chalo re’ and has been running Bengal without listening to anybody. She doesn’t listen to what her party leaders say or what the youth have to say,” he said.
Training his guns on Modi, Gandhi accused him of sitting on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) demand and making changes in the land acquisition bill to suit the interests of his “industrialist friends”.
“Our army men are crying and asking when the OROP will be implemented. But Modi is saying ‘ask us later as we are doing yoga’,” said Gandhi, taking a swipe at the prime minister who has been using social networks to share yoga lessons.
“When we say the benefits should go to farmers, Modi says the land should go only to his industrialist friends. It’s evident his intentions are not clear,” said Gandhi.
Admitting that their fight was not easy in Bengal, Gandhi called upon Congress workers to vanquish the Trinamool and bring his party to power.
“I know your fight is not easy. You have been under tremendous attack from the Trinamool. But I assure you I am with you. I am ready to receive Mamata’s stick blows, but will always stand beside you.
“The Left Front had put a brake on Bengal’s growth and the Trinamool has put both its feet on the brake. But now it’s time for Mamata to vacate the seat and if you want the vehicle of progress to move ahead, then bring the Congress to power,” said Gandhi amid loud cheers by party workers.
Earlier in the day, he visited Rishra in Hooghly district and heard about the plight of jute mill workers.
In the wake of a host of jute mills closing down in the state rendering thousands of workers jobless, Gandhi interacted with nearly 200 mill workers at the Wellington Jute Mills complex and assured them of his commitment to fight for their cause.
“Wherever you will see weak people, you will find Rahul Gandhi standing beside them,” he told the workers.
Talking to the media after visiting a few of the workers’ houses, he said: “It is not just about jute mill workers. Promises have been made and broken. I had come here to talk to jute mill workers. I will raise the issue in parliament.”
Gandhi, who has been up in arms against Modi over the NDA’s Real Estate Regulation Authority Bill calling it “pro-realtor”, later in the day held a meeting with the city’s home buyers and discussed concerns over the proposed law.