Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Left), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Right)
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Saturday that the BJP's 2014 slogan of "acche din" has now given way to "chowkidar chor hai".
Addressing campaign rallies in Chhattisgarh for the first time since the Lok Sabha elections were announced, he also said that the Congress' `Nyay' minimum income scheme would act like "petrol" to kickstart the economy's engine.
Campaigning for Congress candidate Pratima Chandrakar at Bhilai in Durg constituency, Gandhi said, "This slogan (chowkidar chor hai) is trending. Wherever you go, when you speak the word "chowkidar", comes the same reply (chor hai)."
Gandhi started using the phrase `chowkidar chor hai' (the watchman is thief) to accuse the Narendra Modi government of irregularities in the Rafale deal. Modi had earlier dubbed himself the country's chowkidar or watchman.
"Earlier the slogan used to be Acche Din Aayenge (good days will come). In five years, the country has seen the truth of chowkidar," the Congress chief said.
The Congress government, after winning the Assembly election in Chhattisgarh, did not tell people "Man ki Baat", he said, in a dig at the prime minister's radio program.
"We started work. We waived farm loans, procured paddy at Rs 2,500 per quintal and returned land acquired for Tata project in Bastar to farmers," he said.
"Five months ago, I told economists in the Congress party's think tank that Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in the account of people.... I said Congress would not give Rs 15 lakh but I want a figure (amount of money) which can be put in the accounts of poor people," he said.
"I told them if Rs 35,000 crore can be given to Mehul Choksi...And loans of 5,50,000 crore rupees of 15 industrialists can be waived, then why money cannot be put into accounts of the poor people," said Gandhi.
"(Congress leader and former finance minister) Chidambaram said we can give Rs 72,000 to five crore poor families per year which will benefit 25 crore people," he said, referring to `Nyay' (Nyuntam Aay Yojna), a promise made by his party in the poll manifesto.
"We will take money from thieves like (industrialist) Anil Ambani and deposit it into account of the woman member of poor families," he said.
"I don't promise you to give two crore jobs (unlike the BJP's promise) but 22 lakh posts are vacant in the government sector and if we are elected, all these vacancies will be filled. Ten lakh youths can be given employment in panchayats," Gandhi said.
Continuing his attack on Modi over the Rafale fighter jet purchase issue, Gandhi reiterated the allegation that the prime minister took away the contract for Rafale from the PSU Hindustan Aeronautics and gave it to Anil Ambani.
He also promised a simplified Goods and Services Tax "within six months of coming to power".
"Farmers said to me that businessmen who took loans of thousands of crores were roaming in private jets. While the farmers who took loans of Rs 20,000 and were unable to pay were sent to jail. Now this will not happen, not a single farmer will be sent to jail for failing to pay debt," he asserted.
The Congress has fielded Pratima Chandrakar from Durg Lok Sabha constituency which will go to the polls on April 23.
Earlier, campaigning for party candidate Atal Shrivastav at Bilaspur, he said that with the Nyay scheme, people will be able to buy things they need "which will revive manufacturing units and thereby generate employment".
"Nyay scheme will act like petrol for the Indian economy which will kickstart its engine," he added.
"When we promised to waive farm loans in Chhattisgarh, Modi had asked where the money will come from. But we showed where the money comes from after waiving farm loans in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (after winning Assembly polls in the three states)," Gandhi said.
"As soon as we are elected to power, we will deposit Rs 72,000 in bank accounts of poorest families," he said.
"In the 21st century, India will surely eliminate poverty. We will show it by carrying out a surgical strike on poverty in the next 10-15 years," the Congress chief said.
The unemployment rate in the country stands at a 45-year high due to demonetisation and the "Gabbar Singh Tax" (as he refers to Goods and Services Tax), Gandhi said.
During demonetisation, "money was taken out from people's pockets and put in banks" and later given to businessmen like Nirav Modi who fled from the country, Gandhi said.