NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi on Sunday hard sold the Delhi development model and the food security scheme as he spoke at his first election rally in the city, seeking people’s support for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to be voted into office for a fourth term.
The Congress Vice-President, who had launched virulent attacks on RSS and BJP at recent rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, accusing them of spreading hatred, today made no mention of the main opposition as he focused on issues of development and the question of changing the political discourse.
Neither did he make any reference to recent comments by himself that some of the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots had been approached by Pakistani intelligence agencies which wanted to lure them into terrorism.
Reaching out to migrants, who constitute approximately a third of the population of Delhi, Rahul said the Congress government had been keenly hand-holding those who moved to the city from outside.
Also, with regularisation of unauthorised colonies being a major poll plank for Congress in the national capital, Rahul referred to the authorisation of 45 colonies.
Lauding Dikshit for bringing about a turnaround in Delhi, he said that the Delhi Metro rail model was being adopted not only in different Indian states but also outside the country by Indonesia.
“Sheila Dikshit has changed Delhi. A shining metro rail today plies in Delhi. People from other states are inviting DMRC to start metro rail there. Indonesia has also invited Delhi Metro for a similar project in its capital, Jakarta.
“Earlier, there used to be a small airport. UPA government built a shining world class airport. Delhi government brought about revolutionary change in the transport system. Five new universities were set up and 50,000 seats were created (in them). Delhi was made an education hub,” he said.
Meanwhile, AICC general secretary in-charge for Delhi, Shakeel Ahmed, attacked BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for extending state guest-like welcome to MNS chief Raj Thackeray who, “had made an attempt to chase away from Maharashtra people coming from the Hindi belt”.
He also noted that BJP was in an alliance with Shiv Sena, which has a history of attacking settlers from other states in Maharashtra, more particularly those belonging to the Hindi heartland states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Seeking to define the ideal Congress worker, Rahul said that when he had asked his mother, party President Sonia Gandhi, she had replied that he or she was one who helped the poor and the underprivileged and fought for them with love and without anger.
Interacting with the crowd, Rahul spoke at length about rights-based legislation brought in by UPA including, like the RTI and the Food Security Acts.
“Opposition (parties) asked us from where will the money come for food security. We say, it is the right of the poor. We will find the money from anywhere… We want to empower you all.”
“I want people from the last row to join Parliament and the Assemblies… That the most backward have their voice in Parliament.
“We want to open up the locked political system. The opposition does not want that. They like to see that people are kept out of it and the system continues to be run by bureaucrats. We want the system to be run by the aam aadmi… Whatever we do, we will do for you. The country will be strengthened only when those are strengthened in whom the real power of the nation lies,” he said.
He said that although the NDA government had talked about infrastructure and roads, the UPA, during the time it had been in power, had built three times more roads than the BJP-led government.
“But, at the same time, we do not want to forget you, the real strength of the country— the aam aadmi, the youth,” Rahul said.
Although Rahul chose not to react against BJP’s attack on him for mentioning the sacrifices of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi, Ahmed attacked the saffron unit saying “only those who have legacy and history can speak about it”.
“BJP is very pained why we take the name of our ancestors. Without taking their names, the full picture of India does not emerge. I want to ask you whether you know about the ancestors of any BJP leader. How can they take any such names, when they have neither any legacy nor history,” he said.