Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Left), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Right)
Launching a fresh offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that the former got his entire cabinet “locked up” before announcing his decision to demonetise high-value currency notes.
Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh's Solan, Gandhi claimed he was given this information by members of the Special Protection Group (SPG), the agency which guards him.
"During demonetisation Narendra Modi put his cabinet under lock and key (taley se band kiya tha) on Race Course Road,” he said, referring to the earlier name of the road on which the PM's official residence is located.
“This the truth,” Gandhi said.
“The SPG people provide me also with security. They told me that do you know that the prime minister of India locked up his entire cabinet,” he said.
He also criticised Modi over the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
"Countrymen say Modi committed mistakes by implementing demonetisation and the GST. But Modi will never admit it," he said.
The small and medium industrialists, traders and unemployed youth were adversely affected by demonetisation and GST, he added.
Rahul Gandhi also dared Narendra Modi to a debate, saying he has just "four questions" to ask which the prime minister will not be able to answer.
"I am ready to engage in a debate with Modi on corruption at any place," he said.
"Give me 15 minutes, I will ask only four questions. And Modi may take three-four hours to answer them. He will not be able to show his face to the citizens of the country after the debate," he added.
Reiterating his allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet contract, Rahul Gandhi said the government struck an overpriced deal for the jets to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.
The charge has been repeatedly denied by the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Gandhi also ridiculed Modi over his reported remark that he felt the cloud cover on the day IAF struck Balakot will help the fighter aircraft evade Pakistan's radars.
"Modi keeps hiding his knowledge and does not hold any press conference while I talk to the media every other day," he said.
The Congress leader also accused Modi of not fulfilling his poll promises of providing jobs and "depositing Rs 15 lakh" in the bank account of every citizen.
He reiterated that a Congress government will implement the Nyay scheme, which promises a minimum annual income of Rs 72,000 to 20 percent of the poorest families.
Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, state Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore, state's party in-charge Rajni Patil and Shimla's Congress candidate Dhani Ram Shandil also spoke at the meeting.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi had earlier addressed a rally in Solan for his party's Shimla candidate Suresh Kashyap on May 13.
Polling will take place for all four Himachal Pradesh seats on Sunday.