Latur (Maharashtra)/Jagatsinghpur (Odisha): Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi yesterday claimed development in opposition-ruled states only benefited industrialists, accusing Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of letting them “fill their pockets” with public money while terming BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s “Gujarat model” as a “toffee model”.
Continuing a sharp attack on Modi, Gandhi termed the Gujarat model a “toffee model” as land of poor farmers was being sold to industrialists like the Adanis — an industrial group reportedly close to Modi — at throwaway rates — the same as a toffee costs.
“In Gujarat, Adani gets land for just Re1, the same amount of money for which you can buy a toffee. It’s a toffee model,” he said, addressing a massive election rally in Maharashtra’s Latur town.
Gandhi alleged that in Gujarat only one industrialist was benefiting at the cost of the poor farmers and labourers who are dying of hunger. “One out of every two children starves in Gujarat... This is the Gujarat Model the BJP keeps talking about,” he said.
Gandhi quipped that earlier there was a partnership in the Bharatiya Janata Party between Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani but “now, a new leader has emerged — Narendra Modi. Now there is partnership between Modi and Adani”.
He accused Modi of giving away 45,000 acres of land — the size of Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city — at just Rs3bn, or at the rate of Re1 per metre.
Besides, Gandhi said that a loan of Rs10,000 crore was given to build the Nano car — an amount more than what was spent on health and education in Gujarat.
He further attacked Modi for giving concessions to Tata group. “Tata can get a loan for 20 years at just 1 percent interest, while farmers have to bear 12 percent interest,” he said.
In Odisha, where assembly elections are being held along with parliamentary elections, Gandhi urged the state’s voters to overthrow the Biju Janata Dal government of Patnaik.
“We want people’s money should go back to the pockets of the people and not to the select industrial houses,” Gandhi said in an election rally in Jagatsinghpur, adding that despite maximum fund allocation by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to the state, the money could not reach the people.
Gandhi claimed that only the Congress could guarantee development in Odisha. “This is the time for change, give rest to the present government in Odisha and bring back Congress to power to witness real development,” he said.
He further hit out at the BJD government, saying the Raghuram Rajan Committee report puts the state at bottom of the list of backward places despite Odisha’s rich mineral resources.
Modi, while addressing the second round of 3D rallies to around 100 locations in 15 states, said: “Don’t go by his (Gandhi) age, he hasn’t matured mentally and that’s why kept talking about toffees.”
“He is a child at heart because if he was mature he would have known that over 300 models of the Gujarat government has won toffees (trophies) from the United Nations and the Indian government,” he added.
BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Gandhi’s attack showed he has accepted Modi as the prime minister. “We totally reject the allegations. But Rahul Gandhi is attacking Modi as if Modi is already the prime minister,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the BJP will ruin the essence of “Bharatiyata” and “Hindustaniyat”, and urged people to “chose the right path”. In a video message posted on the Congress website, Sonia said India was at a “crossroads” in this election.
“What are these values that are the very heart and soul of our motherland? They are love and respect, harmony and brotherhood. In a word, non-violence,” Sonia said in the message in Hindi.