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War of words heats up as Modi takes on Rahul 'baba'

Last updated on: December 11, 2012 22:53 IST

War of words heats up as Modi takes on Rahul 'baba'

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Sheela Bhatt in Gujarat

Rahul Gandhi attended thee public speeches in Jamnagar, Amreli and Sanand on Tuesday, but his careful attitude made them bland. On the other hand, Gujarat Chief Minister seems to have taken every ridicule and allegation by Congress leaders, and hit back with a vengeance in his speeches. Sheela Bhatt reports.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was cautious to not make any mistake that could give any rope to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is searching for just such an issue to polarise voters in his favour.

But Rahul's careful attitude made his speeches bland. He said whenever he is in trouble 'I read Gandhi'. He said Gujarat gave him a 'guru' -- when he is in trouble he reads books of Mahatma Gandhi and he doesn't need any other help. The audience was receptive and largely made of Dalits, the poor and the Muslims.

Rahul got confused while explaining FDI in retail at Amreli. He asked the audience 'What's the price of potatoes?' From the dias he could hear people say, "Rs 3" To which, he said," Potato chips are sold at Rs 10 a pack. So why oppose FDI in retail?"

The fact is in Amreli, the minimum price for a kg of potatoes is Rs 10 at the wholesale market, and much higher in the retail market.

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Image: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi speaks at a rally in Amreli
Photographs: Video: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'To run a mobile phone, you need to charge it'

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Meanwhile, Modi has taken every little allegation, every expose and ridicule by Congress leaders during the ongoing election campaign seriously. As soon as Rahul Gandhi levelled his allegations against Modi, the latter rebutted it strongly.

Rahul said, in his speech in Amreli, "The Congress got you mobile phones." He credited innovator and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda, a Gujarati for it.

Modi rebutted it with a dry, "To run a mobile phone, you need to charge it. Gujarat had round the clock electricity, while recently 70 crore people in rest of the India were in darkness for 24 hours."

He threw a counter-question, "How many cities and towns in India are getting electricity round the clock after so many years of Independence?"

When Rahul alleged that Modi doesn't allow the assembly to function, Modi said, "Out of 85 sessions last year, Rahul has attended only 24 sessions of the Lok Sabha. Earlier, he attended 19 days out of 72 days. Is this his love of democracy?"

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Image: Rahul Gandhi with other Congress leaders at Amreli
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'This Gujarat belongs to Sardar Patel

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In response to Rahul's, 'In Gujarat 14,000 Right to Information applications are pending with the state government', Modi said that at various places during the day, more than 3 lakh RTI queries are pending with the Central government.

Modi said, "The Nehru family will not be able to root out Gujarat, because this Gujarat belongs to Sardar Patel."

Modi said," Rahulbaba, who complains that there are one million unemployed in Gujarat doesn't know that the Central government's report has claimed that Gujarat has the least unemployment."

Modi ridiculed Rahul's assertion that Gandhiji is his 'guru', Modi said, "He should follow Gandhi's advice, which was given after Independence, that the Congress should be disbanded." Modi is also going aggressive in opposing the FDI retail which is a hit among his 'middle class and neo-middle class' audience.

Last week, Modi had said in Ahmedabad, "Previously you were locking the shops with Aligarh-made locks. Now, after FDI in retail your shops will be shut down with the Italian locks."

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Image: A boy holds the Congress flag at the rally
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'The womenfolk will not vote for the BJP in Amreli'

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Dahiben, an Amreli resident, who had heard Rahul's speech was least interested in discussing the speech.

She said, "In Amreli, the womenfolk will not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. We don't get water for a week at a stretch. You must write about us. Amreli is still backward, but Modi's north Gujarat is enjoying progress."

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Image: Dahiben (in blue saree), an Amreli resident
Photographs: Uttam Ghost/Rediff.com

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'We want the Congress back in Gujarat'

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Mukesh Chotangia, a tailor from Aneeda village from Kunkavav taluka visited Amreli to see Rahul. He said," I was born in a family of barbers. We feel distressed under Modi's rule. He is not a leader of the poor people. He never asks 'how do you do?'"

"He belongs to rich and well-to-do people. If you are not educated, Modi will ignore you! We are not getting cheap education like my father got it under the Congress rule. My electricity bill is too high, so electricity 24/7 is of no use. Groundnut oil is Rs 90 a kilo. I get health services at high price. Modi is a believer of privatisation. We want the Congress back in Gujarat," he said.


Image: Mukesh Chotangia (left), a tailor from Aneeda village
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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