Ghaziabad/Saharanpur: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi yesterday condemned the language used by party’s Saharanpur nominee, Imran Masood, against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying it does not reflect the Congress’ thinking.
He also compared the BJP election campaign to a series of films which kept failing, and said voters will reject the BJP, “which plays dirty tricks to mislead the people”, in these general elections like in the past.
Addressing rallies in Ghaziabad and Saharanpur, Gandhi said the tape showing Masood making a hate speech against Modi was a six-month-old address in a small gathering. His claim was supported by Saharanpur’s Additional Superintendent of Police Dharamvir, who confirmed that the speech was six months old, but added that Masood continued to repeat it, if not in exact words, but those quite similar and police have recovered both the CDs (old and latest one).
Masood, nephew of jailed Congress leader Rashid Masood, was arrested yesterday and a court later sent him to 14 days judicial custody. Officials said a first information report was lodged in Saharanpur, soon after clips of Masood’s speech spewing venom on Modi and threatening to “chop him into pieces”, were telecast on TV channels.
Masood made the alleged threat in relation to deadly riots that erupted in the state of Gujarat in 2002, when Modi had just become its chief minister. “(Modi) thinks this is Gujarat where the Muslim population is four percent. There are 42 percent Muslims here...” he is seen to say.
If Modi were to make Masood’s constituency into Gujarat, “he will be chopped into tiny pieces,” Masood adds.
Masood told local media he “did not threaten to kill Modi” and he only said the hardline Hindu leader “would have be taught a lesson” in event he stirred up any “Gujarat-like” riots in his constuency.
Masood also said his speech was from an old video, not from a recent rally, and may have dated from when he was a member of the regional Samajwadi Party, which rules Uttar Pradesh.
Congress said it would not cancel his nomination. “Why should we cancel his nomination? Just because 10 days before the election an old CD surfaced?” Rita Bahuguna Joshi, an Uttar Pradesh Congress leader, said.
Gandhi said the Congress never thinks of violence and it is the opposition which is rude and harsh while talking to its political opponents. “This is not the way of the Congress party. I will tell you what the way of the Congress party is. In a recent rally, the opposition leader said about me, ‘He isn’t even fit to become a driver’. But we must not react with anger.
“We believe in the politics of love and we must defeat the politics of anger. We must fight against those who play the politics of anger and hatred and defeat them.”
Attacking the BJP, Gandhi noted that in 2004, it sought to show the entire country that India was shining but this failed to convince the voters. “People looked around and consulted their families, asked which India was shining and decided that their India was not shining. On the day of the elections, they pressed the button and burst the bubble,” he said.
He likened the BJP campaign to the Dhoom movie series. “The BJP campaign managers got together again in 2009 and said since Shining-I failed, let us make Shining-2 and so they made that,” he said. “But we had given loan waiver to farmers (in 2009) and had brought in the rural employment guarantee act. People again came, saw the BJP balloon and burst it,” he said.
Gandhi said the campaign managers of BJP have brought in a new movie this time which they have called the Gujarat model. “After two failed attempts, the BJP is making another sequel of the ‘India Shining’ movie called the Gujarat Development model. And just like in 2004 and 2009 when the people of India burst the ‘India Shining’ balloon, people will burst this balloon yet again.”
“Earlier they were filling air in the balloon, but this time they filled it with gas. This is the third balloon, elections are coming and the power is with you (the people) and you will press the button again and the balloon will come down,” he said.
Listing the achievements of the United Progressive Alliance government, Gandhi said: “We have taken 15 crore people out of poverty. There are 70 crore people in India who are neither below poverty line nor in the middle class. They are the artisans, truck drivers and taxi drivers.
“We will not forget the poor. But for these 70 crore people, our aim is to put them in the middle class in the next 5-10 years. We will do this by changing the system of education of the country.”
“The opposition wants to give power to just one person, but we (the Congress) want to empower all Indians,” he said, adding the leaders of the Congress “talk about love and brotherhood, not anger”.