Rahul Gandhi draws crowds in visit to Telangana

Opposition leader targets KCR government as ‘one family rule’ and lashes out for rampant corruption

Hyderabad: Rahul Gandhi’s maiden visit to Telangana as Congress president has turned out to be bigger than the party expected.

The opposition leader anchored more than half a dozen engagements, including two sizeable public gatherings.

During the Gandhi scion’s interactions with thousands of women members from self help groups, editors, industrialists and in his address to party workers and the public meeting, contours of his strategy for the coming mega electoral battle emerged.

In a move rich with symbolism, he visited the Telangana Martyrs Memorial to pay tributes.

The was seen as a bid to reclaim his party’s legacy in the struggle for Telangana state, something over which the TRS has so far enjoyed a monopoly.

Insisting that, in Telangana, the BJP and the state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti were equal opponents, he drew a parallel between the failures of Prime Minister Narendar Modi at the Centre and Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in the state.

While verbosity and speaking power are the most important weapons in the electoral armory of both Modi and KCR, what has given a tremendous boost to the confidence of Congress workers was that Rahul was no more a mumbling novice but was clearly catching up with the rivals in ideas as well as clear communications.

Adopting an uncharacteristic aggressive approach he targeted the KCR government as “one family rule” at the risk of attracting ridicule given the Gandhi family’s dynastic traditions in Congress, and also lashed out for what he called rampant corruption through “redesigning”.

He called both PM Modi and KCR “redesigners”, giving the example of how the Pranahita Chevella project initiated by the previous Congress government in the state was later redesigned to the Kaleshwaram project by KCR, which increased the cost from Rs380 billion (Dh19.84 billion) to Rs800 billion. Similarly he said PM Modi had redesigned the Rafael deal of UPA government to increase the price of per aircraft from Rs5.26 billion to more than Rs16 billion stating that the redesigning was a result of corruption and cronyism to benefit Modi’s friend industrialist Anil Ambani.

The “redesigners” moniker evoked a lot of applause from the public meeting at Saroornagar with which Rahul rounded up his hectic tour last evening.

“Both of them have a wand of magic which they wave to increase the cost of the projects”, he said.

Rahul’s sharp focus was on the negative fall out of demonetisation and imposition of Goods and Services Tax labelling the later as “Gabbar Singh Tax” which burdened the small and medium businessmen and companies.

“under the guise of demonetisation Modiji took your money and put in the pockets of the 30 richest Indians” was a recurring theme in all his speeches as he did not lose any opportunity to remind people that Modi regime had written off Rs2.5 trillion worth loans of big industrialists and increased the NPAs of the public sector banks to Rs12 trillion.

“After Congress comes to power we will exempt all the small businessmen from the GST”, he declared. Promising that the next government will focus on creating employment and he said that it would be a friend of poor people, the farmers and the unemployed youth. He also repeatedly referred to the violence unleashed against Dalits, minorities and women. “In 2014 Modiji gave slogan of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao but forget to add that the daughters should be saved from the BJP leaders”, he said referring to various incidents of rape in which the BJP leaders were allegedly involved.

Recalling the unfulfilled promises of Modi like Rs1.5 million in every bank account and 20 million jobs every year, Rahul said, “I am not here to make false promises. We will say what we will do”.

In context of Telangana he said that the aspirations for which the Telangana youth fought and laid down their lives for separate state were not fulfilled. “Only one family gained from the formation of the new state”, he said promising employment opportunities and better social support systems.

In his interactions with the state Congress leaders and also in his teleconference with the members of 31,000 booth committees across the state Rahul sent a clear message that the party will give tickets only to the genuine workers.

“We will not give tickets to those who will jump with parachutes in Delhi”, he said. He also urged the state leaders to remain united and go the people.

Even in the interaction with the editors he came out as a man with a clarity of thought and vision and spoke emphatically to declare that Modi will not become Prime Minister again as not only people but his own party BJP and patron RSS had turned against him.

The response to Rahul in all the programs has clearly rattled the ruling TRS so much that the KCR had to personally launch a counter attack to defend his perch. Even his son and the second most important minister in the state K Taraka Rama Rao also took to twitter to ridicule Rahul Gandhi on twin issues of family rule and corruption. “irony just died a thousand deaths”, he quipped.

TRS workers also tried to disrupt Rahul’s visit to Telangana martyrs memorial and washed the place with milk after Rahul left the place holding Congress responsible for the suicides of Telangana youth for the sake of separate state.

The BJP on the other hand was concerned about the impact of Rahul’s claims of massive corruption in Rafael aircraft deal. State BJP president K. Lakshman called the allegations a false propaganda to tarnish the image of the Prime Minister.


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