'Modi's speech was like one of our sour food preparations; Rahul's was sweet.'
Jyoti Punwani reports from Nanded.
'Two Indias exist: One is Ambani's and Nirav Modi's; the other is that of the kisan, the mazdoor and the unemployed youth. How can that be?'
The theme of inequality dominated Congress President Rahul Gandhi's speech at Nanded where local strongman Ashok Chavan is facing an unexpectedly tough fight this time, thanks to a popular Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and Prakash Ambedkar's Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi.
A packed ground of 50,000 men and women didn't have to wait too long as Rahul arrived punctually at 7.20 pm.
In his 30-minute speech, Rahul spoke about his favourite topic -- Rafale, the benefit given to Anil Ambani at the cost of the public sector HAL -- and threw a challenge to BJP leader Narendra Damodardas Modi to debate with him at any place of his choice on Rafale.
Elaborating on his Nyay scheme, Gandhi explained in simple language how he came to conceive of it. Linking it to the ₹30000 crore of "Your money" which he said was looted by the chowkidar -- at every mention of the word, the crowd yelled "Chor hai" -- as well as the crores looted by businessmen he called Modi's friends such as Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya, Gandhi said he had wondered how the reverse could be made to happen: How much could be put into the accounts of the poorest five crore people.
His only condition was that the economy shouldn't suffer. He was given a figure of ₹72,000 a year, which he found difficult to believe. "
"I won't lie to you," he said, "I won't say I'll give you so many jobs. But the Nyay scheme will itself generate jobs because you will be able to buy things and that's how the factories closed down by the PM's demonetisation will open again."
"That's how the Nyay scheme will revive the engine of the economy which was shut down by the PM's demonetisation."
As he spoke of how Narendra Damodardas Modi enters every home and takes away the savings of housewives, the women in the audience started recalling the tough times of demonetisation.
The Rs 72,000 would be put in the accounts of women, Rahul told the men in the audience. "You will complain, but it's the women who will use the money wisely," he said.
Ending his speech by praising the people of Maharashtra who he said, "had the DNA of the Congress in their blood", Rahul said their ideology and that of the Congress was the same.
"You have no hatred in your hearts," he said. "You are the pride of Hindustan. This country is not run by dividing people and spreading hate, but by love and brotherhood."
"A Congress government would not be the government of one person, but that of all Indians," he added. "It would contain the soul of India."
"We preferred Rahul's speech to Modi's," said women as they filed out, many of them dressed in traditional nine yard sarees.
Added one: "Modi's speech (a few days earlier) was like one of our sour food preparations; Rahul's was sweet."
"We have come here to support the Congress because Modi has ruled by creating riots everywhere, in cities, in villages," said 30-year-old farmer Samir Shaikh. "If he comes back, we won't be able to move out of our homes due to the riots that he will create."
Comparing Modi's speech to Rahul's, a policeman said the PM's had more josh. "That's what people like. Rahul Gandhi's speech was good, but for samajhdar people."
Campaigning ends on Tuesday, April 16, in Nanded which goes to the polls on the 18th.