Sharpening his attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Narendra Modi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused them of trying to usurp the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and recalled the Congress stalwart's description of the RSS as "a venomous organisation" which could "finish" the country.
Launching the poll campaign of the Congress in Himachal Pradesh from this picturesque hill town, Rahul took a dig at the BJP prime ministerial candidate, saying it is an irony that a person who lived all his life with the RSS ideology is now installing Sardar Patel's statue and it appears he has neither read the history nor the views of Patel.
The Congress vice president quoted Patel’s views on the RSS and said that Patel had described the RSS as "a venomous organisation which could finish the country." Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of pursuing the politics of hatred to divide the people on communal, caste, creed and regional lines, Rahul told the rally at Police Stadium that the BJP talks of Hinduism but acts against the spirit of Bhagwad Gita which preached love and brotherhood.
Claiming that the United Progressive Alliance government had taken several steps such as Right to Information Act and Lokpal to curb corruption, he accused the opposition of blocking about a half-a-dozen bills in Parliament aimed at effectively checking corruption.
Holding the Opposition responsible for non-passage of Women's Reservation Bill, he said the Congress party is committed to women empowerment and it would not only provide reservation for women in Lok Sabha and State assemblies but also give adequate reservation to them in ministries and government departments.
Before reaching the rally site, Rahul attended a meeting of ex-servicemen at Tanda near Dharamshala. Addressing the meeting, he termed the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as a "battle of thoughts", saying while the Congress stood for empowering the people, the opposition represented only the rich in the country.
Lauding the 10-year rule of UPA as period of growth, Rahul said that 15 crore people have been brought above poverty line and referred to passage of Acts relating to MNREGA, Food Security, RTI and Land Acquisition. Maintaining that he did not believe in making tall promises, Rahul said that he only promises to make sincere efforts to solve the problems of the people.
Striking an emotional chord with the ex-servicemen, rural folk, women and youth, Rahul said that the UPA accepted the 25-year-old demand of "one rank one pay" to ex- servicemen and that the decision to increase the number of subsidised LPG cylinders from 9 to 12 was also taken on the demand of women.
The Congress empowered the Panchayati Raj Institutions to ensure active participation of women and youth in development of the country, he added. "We want development and growth of all sections of the society, especially the women and the youth and bring 70 crore people in the middle income group," he said.
Accusing the BJP of taking credit for infrastructural development works of the UPA, Rahul said that the UPA government constructed three times more roads than National Democratic Alliance in five years and now a manufacturing corridor and freight corridor is being developed to generate employment and give boost to manufacturing sector.
He said that the opposition parties criticised former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for computerisation and IT and spread a canard that it would squeeze employment opportunities but when the people realised the benefits of computerisation and mobile phone, they tried to take credit for it.
Expressing the hope that the UPA would win the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul listed the achievements of UPA government and also the schemes and programmes launched in HP and asked the party workers to highlight this to the people.
He said that the BJP which had opposed statehood to Himachal is now trying to take credit for developing the hill state. Rahul also said he was fascinated by the beauty of snow-covered DhouladharMountains in Dharamsala. "This is really the most beautiful hill station I have ever seen."