In a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi accused his government of working against the interests of the poor of the country for benefitting industrialists.
Addressing huge rallies in Nashik and Pune districts, Gandhi charged Modi with making “closed door deals” with US companies to remove the cap on prices of essential medicines.
“A deal was arrived and now cancer drugs costing Rs.8,000 will be available for Rs.1 lakh. Prices of 108 important medicines for diabetes, blood pressure and other diseases will also increase manifold, for the benefit of the industrialists,” he said.
Noting that the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government launched the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme for the poor by which money from various government schemes like MNREGA could be directly transferred to the peoples’ bank accounts, he said: “Today, they are also continuing with it, but in a different manner. The money from your pockets will be transferred directly to the pockets of the industrialists.”
Gandhi said that earlier industrialists used to take away the lands of the poor and tribals for a pittance, but the UPA brought reforms in the land acquisition laws.
“The industrialists are now angry as they have to shell out more than the market prices for your lands, and secure clearance of village panchayats before acquiring them,” he said to applause.
Attacking Modi’s claims of ‘Achhe Din’, Gandhi said that before the Lok Sabha polls, he had promised to make India strong and teach Pakistan a lesion.
“Now Pakistan is firing on our soldiers, innocents and children are being killed, but they say everything will be fine, The onion prices shoot up and they say everything will be fine soon. When will everything be fine?” he asked.
He also challenged Modi’s call for a “Congress-mukt (free) Maharashtra” saying that was not possible as the Congress party’s ethos, culture and ideology matched that of the state and its great leaders.
“They should understand that the ideology of Congress is the same as the thoughts and ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji, B. R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule… how can you remove them from the lives of the people of Maharashtra,” he wondered.
Rejecting promises of progress by the BJP, Gandhi assured that there will be progress under Congress, but it will go hand-in-hand with the poor, farmers and tribals of the state.
He exhorted that the time has come to show “the power of poor” by voting for the Congress. “They do not understand the strength of the poor of this country. We shall now show them this strength.”
This was Gandhi’s second round of campaign in Maharashtra. Two days ago he addressed massive rallies in Raigad and Latur and coming Sunday, he will address meetings in Nagpur and Buldana in eastern Maharashtra.