Congress chief Rahul Gandhi (File Photo)
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of corruption and asked how come all "thieves" have 'Modi' as the common surname as he referred to fugitive businessman Nirav Modi and former IPL chairman Lalit Modi.
Gandhi made the remarks while addressing a rally in support of Congress's Nanded Lok Sabha seat candidate and the party's Maharashtra chief Ashok Chavan.
Keeping up his attack on Modi on the Rafale fighter jet deal, Gandhi asked the prime minister how come industrialist Anil Ambani got the offset contract despite having no experience in manufacturing such planes.
He reiterated his charge that Modi had put Rs 30,000 crore of the people's money into Ambani's pocket by ensuring that the businessman got the contract instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which, he said, has been manufacturing aircraft for the last 70 years.
"The planes which did the air strikes in Balakot? HAL. Sukhoi, Jaguar, Mirage, MiG. HAL is a government company and is making planes for the last 70 years," he said.
The Indian Air Force had carried out the strike on a terror training camp in Pakistan's Balakot in February-end in retaliation to the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed.
Gandhi also challenged the prime minister for a debate on the Rafale deal, the alleged sudden increase in the turnover of BJP chief Amit Shah's son's company and other "scams".
In the past, Ambani has rejected Gandhi's allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in Rafale maker Dassault picking his company as a local partner.
"But tell me one thing...Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi...How come they all have Modi as common name. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common name?" he asked.
Reacting to the Congress leader's surname comment, Rajasthan BJP chief Madan Lal Saini claimed that it was an insult to a particular section of the society.
Gandhi claimed that the prime minister did not reply to questions he had raised in Parliament in regard to the Rafale deal.
He accused Modi of being a "chowkidar (watchman) of rich people like Ambani".
"Not all the chowkidars are chor (thieves)... But one chowkidar has defamed all the chowkidars," he said, attacking Modi.
Gandhi accused the central government of writing off loans worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore of the rich, but not of the poor, particularly farmers.
The Congress leader said his party, if voted to power, it will bring a law that will ensure farmers are not arrested in the event of non-payment of loan.
"If the likes of Anil Ambani are not in jail for not repaying loans, why should farmers be in jail?" he asked.
Gandhi reiterated that if his party forms government, it would present two budgets: one national and the other for farmers.
He expounded the Nyay programme, aimed at ensuring minimum income guarantee to the poor, and his party plans to implement it on coming to power.
The party, in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, has said Nyay assures up to Rs 72,000 a year or Rs 6,000 a month income to 20 per cent of India's poorest families.
The money will be transferred into the accounts of 5 crore women from such families, Gandhi said.
Slamming Modi for "failing to keep his promise of giving two crore jobs to India's youth", Gandhi said, "We will provide 22 lakh jobs a year after the Congress comes to power".
"Unemployment in India is now highest in the last 45 years," he said.
Gandhi also slammed the government on the issue of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, saying they hurt the economy and rendered people jobless.
Nanded, from where Chavan is seeking re-election, will vote on April 18.