PM is ‘champion of corruption’; BJP will not cross 150 seats in LS polls: Rahul Gandhi


PTI, Apr 17, 2024, 7:43 PM IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the BJP, with Gandhi dubbing electoral bonds as the ”world’s biggest extortion scheme” and alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the ”champion of corruption”.

Addressing a joint press conference with Yadav here just two days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi also said there is a strong undercurrent in favour of the opposition INDIA bloc and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not cross 150 seats in the polls.

Samajwadi Party chief Yadav asserted that ”winds of change” are blowing from western Uttar Pradesh and there will be an INDIA bloc ”clean sweep” from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur.

He also slammed the BJP over the issue of corruption, saying ”their balloon of morality has burst” and the electoral bonds issue has exposed them.

Asserting that this election is an ideological one, Gandhi said on one hand, there is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP which are trying to end the Constitution and the democratic system of the country, and on the other, is the INDIA bloc that is protecting and defending the Constitution and the democratic system.

There are a few big issues in the polls such as unemployment and price rise but the BJP is engaged in diverting attention from them, said Gandhi, who was flanked by Yadav, Congress general secretaries Jairam Ramesh and Avinash Pande, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajai Rai, and other Congress and SP leaders at the presser. ”Sometimes the prime minister goes underwater in the ocean and sometimes he is on a seaplane but he does not talk about issues,” he alleged.

Referring to a recent interview of Modi, Gandhi said it was ”scripted” and a ”flop show” with the prime minister also giving an explanation on electoral bonds.

The prime minister said electoral bonds were brought for transparency to cleanse politics but if that is the case, then why did the Supreme Court discontinue them, Gandhi asked.

He asked, ”If you wanted to bring transparency, then why were the names of those who donated thousands of crores (of rupees) to the BJP hidden?” Why were the dates on which the companies made donations to the BJP hidden, he asked.

”It was found that a company got a contract for thousands of crores (of rupees) and after a few days, that company made a donation to the BJP. There was a CBI or an ED inquiry on a firm, and after 10-15 days, that firm made a donation to the BJP and that inquiry was ended,” Gandhi charged.

The electoral bonds scheme is the ”world’s biggest extortion scheme”, the Congress leader said. ”No matter how much clarification the prime minister gives, it will make no difference because the whole country knows that the prime minister is the champion of corruption,” he alleged.

Asked how many seats he expects the Congress-SP alliance to win, Gandhi said he does not predict number of seats but can definitely say that the coalition will do very well in Uttar Pradesh.

On the overall scenario, he said that ”15-20 days ago it seemed that the BJP would go up to 180 seats. Now it seems that it will go up to 150 seats only”. ”We are getting reports from every state that our position is getting stronger and there is an undercurrent (in favour of the INDIA bloc). As far as the alliance in Uttar Pradesh is concerned, our alliance is very powerful. Our performance will be very good,” he asserted.

At the presser, Yadav urged people to ensure that their votes are not divided and asked them to guard their booths to ensure a wipeout of the BJP.

”The Lok Sabha polls’ first phase in Uttar Pradesh is going to be held. The winds that are blowing from the west are going to change the environment of the whole state and the country,” he said.

”Today, we are sitting in Ghaziabad. There will be a clean sweep of the INDIA bloc over the BJP from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur,” the SP chief said.

He claimed that farmers are distressed as the BJP’s promises and claims have turned out to be a ”big lie”. Neither have farmers’ income doubled nor have youngsters got jobs, he said.

”Their (BJP) balloon of morality has burst. The electoral bonds issue has exposed them. The BJP has become a godown of the corrupt. They are not only taking in the corrupt but also their earnings,” Yadav alleged.

”They made claims of double-engine (government), look at their hoardings now. Their candidates are missing and only one person is there. After the polls, the person who is alone on the hoardings will also disappear,” he said in an apparent swipe at Prime Minister Modi. ”Lying and looting have become their identity,” Yadav added.

”The people of the country want change… I am confident that an INDIA bloc government will be formed,” he said.

Yadav said the PDA (Pichhde, Dalit aur Alpsankhyak) will defeat the National Democratic Alliance.

”They will be wiped out from here to Ghazipur and those who came in 2014 will exit in 2024. The people of Uttar Pradesh will ensure a grand welcome and this time they will also ensure a grand departure,” he said.

Asked about Modi’s criticism of his remarks that the Congress will end poverty in no time, Gandhi said no one said poverty will end in one go but ”we can make strong efforts for it”.

To questions on contesting the polls from Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, the former Congress chief said he will abide by his party’s decision. Such decisions are taken by the party’s central election committee, he said.

Yadav and Gandhi said INDIA bloc partners have broadly agreed on the different issues facing the country, particularly saving democracy and the Constitution, besides addressing unemployment, price rise and social justice.

On the issue of ”common manifesto” of the bloc, Gandhi said the Congress was open to all suggestions from its allies. The manifesto had the ideology of alliance partners, he said.

Even now if the alliance partners have any suggestions these will be taken on board, Gandhi added.

Drawing a comparison between the BJP and the Congress manifestos, he said while the Congress manifesto talks about pressing issues like unemployment, social justice and justice for farmers, the BJP manifesto just talks about bringing Olympic games to India in another 10-15 years and sending someone to the moon.

The SP and the Congress are contesting the Lok Sabha polls in an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress is contesting 17 seats while the SP and some other allies are fighting from the remaining 63 seats in the politically crucial state that sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

Eight constituencies in the state — Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzzafarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Muradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit — will go to polls in the first phase on April 19.

The seven-phase elections will begin on Friday and counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

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