'I had expected them to fight this election on the issue of development, but they are not doing that.'
'Now they have decided to belittle Gujarat's development.'
Prime Minister Narendra D Modi on Monday, October 16, 2017, attacked the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family, accusing them of disliking Gujarat and Gujaratis who they considered an 'eyesore'.
Invoking leaders from the poll-bound state like Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai, the prime minister accused the 'Congress and the family' of slighting them.
He also alleged a 'conspiracy' was hatched by the Congress to put him in jail, in an apparent reference to accusations of his complicity in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Accusing the main Opposition party of pursuing 'negative politics', Modi dared the Congress to fight the coming Gujarat assembly polls on the development plank.
'The Gujarat polls are round the corner and the Congress has developed fever once again. Gujarat has been an eyesore for the party and the family. I won't repeat what they did to Sardar Patel, his daughter Maniben, and Morarji Desai,' Modi said.
'They did not speak about the work of Morarji Desai or his dedication and commitment to Mahatma Gandhi's ideals. They instead chose to talk about what he ate and drank,' Modi told a massive Bharatiya Janata Party rally at Bhat village near Gandhinagar, referring to the late prime minister's fondness for urine therapy.
He also targeted the Congress over the resignation of party leader Madhavsinh Solanki, who as foreign minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government was alleged to have sent a letter to his then Swiss counterpart to scuttle the Bofors scandal probe.
'They forced Solanki to resign. The party can go to any extent to save the family,' Modi alleged.
The rally was held to mark the conclusion of the BJP's 'Gujarat Gaurav Yatra' (march for Gujarat's honour) ahead of the electoral battle for the state where the BJP holds sway.
'You did not waste any opportunity to strike. When I was chief minister and you were in power at the Centre, you hatched a conspiracy to put me in jail. You knew that it was not possible until Amit Shah (the BJP president) was put behind bars, you did that.'
'This is the poison, the malice you harbour. Since (Sardar) Patel conceived the Narmada project, it was not allowed to be completed for 40, 50 years,' Modi said as he repeatedly attacked the Nehru-Gandhi family in his speech.
Referring to Congress leaders, including party president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi being on bail in the National Herald case, Modi said, 'The whole party is on bail.'
'I had expected them to fight this election on the issue of development, but they are not doing that. Now they have decided to belittle Gujarat's development,' he said referring to the Congress' online campaign 'Vikas (development) has gone crazy', which targets the Gujarat model of development.
Rahul Gandhi has, during his frequent trips to the state, criticised the Gujarat model of development.
'This election is a fight between vikasvaad and vanshvaad; development politics will triumph over family rule.'
The Congress, he alleged, avoided contesting elections with focus on development.
'Every time there is an election, it would raise the issue of communalism, spread the poison of casteism. They never have the courage to contest a poll on the concrete issue of development,' he said.
Modi's remarks came against the backdrop of the agitation by the influential Patel community for reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.
Hardik Patel, the quota stir spearhead, had welcomed Rahul Gandhi on a recent visit to Gujarat.
'They called us anti-Dalit, anti-Adivasi, an urban party. The people gave them an apt reply. None of the charges stuck. Today, we have the highest number of Dalit and Adivasi MPs. The highest number of MPs from rural areas are of the BJP,' he said.
Speaking in both Hindi and Gujarati, Modi said his government had taken forward 90 water projects worth Rs 50,000 crore that were pending since the time the Congress was in power.
Rs 12 lakh crore worth of development projects that were pending are being executed, he said.
The prime minister alleged that when he launched the 'Sujalam Sufalam' project, which would reach water that was going waste by draining into the sea to parched areas, the then Congress government in neighbouring Rajasthan objected to it.
'Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot wrote to us that you cannot use the water without our permission,' Modi claimed.
'Negative' politics, he added, was responsible for the current condition of the Congress, which once ruled all over the country and gave so many prime ministers from one family.
'Congress 'equal partner' in GST decision'
The Goods and Services Tax, Modi told the rally, was a collective decision of various state governments in which the Centre had a small role to play and the Congress was 'an equal partner'.
'The Congress is an equal partner in the GST decision and it should not spread lies about GST. The decision was not taken by Parliament or Narendra Modi. The decision was made by governments of all political parties, including the Congress governments of Punjab, Karnataka, and Meghalaya,' Modi said.
The central government was 'only the 30th part' in the decision which was taken in consultation with 29 states.
Modi said he has been in touch with businessmen after the launch of GST and claimed they like the system because it has freed them from bureaucratic red tape.
The prime minister assured the business community that the government is trying to sort out problems they are still facing on GST.
'I am sure that businessmen of the country need this system, but they demand simplicity. This is being put before the GST (council) and discussed collectively,' he said.
Modi said businessmen would not need to adjust their past books to synchronise them with the new system.
He attacked the Congress over observing November 8, the day demonetisation was announced last year, as 'Black Day', something he said which his government would celebrate as 'Black Money Mukti Diwas' (day of freedom from black money).
Following demonetisation, Modi said, the sources of origin of Rs 3 lakh crore of dubious money are being probed, adding that his government has shut down 2.10 lakh companies without any protest.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at the Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan in Ahmedabad, October 16, 2017. Photograph: PTI Photo