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Free Electricity, Farm Loan Waiver, Cheap Gas: Rahul Gandhi Makes Slew Of Promises In Poll-Bound Gujarat

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also promised 10 lakh jobs and 3,000 government English-medium schools if his party comes to power in Gujarat.

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Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat
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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday sounded the poll bugle in Gujarat with a slew of promises ranging from free electricity to affordable cooking gas and loan waivers for farmers.

A day after tearing into the Narendra Modi government in a Congress rally at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, Rahul was in Gujarat on Monday where he addressed the party's booth-level workers at the 'Parivartan Sankalp Rally' at the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad. 

Elections are due later this year in Gujarat and the promises made by Rahul are therefore significant as he and the Congress are taking on the government on the issue of inflation and inclusion of essentials under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) among other issues. The Congress and the Opposition have also lashed out at Modi for characterising populist electoral promises as freebies. 

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Rahul on Monday promised loan waiver of up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers of Gujarat, LPG cylinder at Rs 500 instead of Rs 1,000, free electricity to farmers and up to 300 units of free power to general consumers if his party comes to power in the state. On the employment front, Rahul promised creation of 10 lakh new jobs.

Rahul also promised building 3,000 English medium schools, free education to girls and Rs 5 per litre subsidy to milk producers. He said the Congress will focus on employment in Gujarat and will provide jobs to 10 lakh youth.

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Rahul targeted the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claiming that while it built the world's tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat, it worked against those for whom Patel lived and died for.

Earlier, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had also announced a number of sops and promised freebies if it comes to power in Gujarat. AAP as well as the Congress is looking to upset the BJP in Gujarat as retaining Gujarat would be an issue of prestige of BJP as its Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state and it's from there that he stepped up to be the prime minister in 2014. A victory for the Opposition in Gujarat would therefore carry huge symbolic value.

Addressing the rally on Monday, Rahul said, "The BJP government here will waive loans of top industrialists, but have you ever heard that they have waived loans of farmers? I promise to waive loans of up to Rs 3 lakh of each farmer after we come to power in Gujarat."

He also promised to provide people LPG cylinder at Rs 500 instead of its current price of Rs 1,000.

Rahul also promised free electricity to farmers and up to 300 units of free power to general consumers if the Congress comes to power in the state. 

He claimed the BJP on one hand built the world's tallest statue of Sardar Patel, on the other hand it insulted him.

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"For whom did Sardar Patel fight and why? You built his statue, but he was not just a human being, he was the voice of farmers of Gujarat and India. Whatever he said was for the benefit of the farmers of Gujarat and India," Gandhi said.

Three agricultural laws —which were later repealed by the Modi government— were meant to take away the rights of farmers, he said. 

"Farmers from across the country came out on roads, and the BJP says it fights for the rights of farmers. On one hand they built the tallest statue of Sardar Patel, and on the other hand they have attacked all those for whom Sardar Patel fought and sacrificed his entire life. What is the meaning of the statue?" he wondered.

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Rahul claimed the BJP in Gujarat has captured all the institutions, and the fight here is not between two political parties but with every institution which has been captured by the ruling party. 

He also attacked the government over the recent seizure of large amount of drugs, especially from Gujarat's Mundra port, and claimed the Gujarat model is that of the rule of three-four industrialists. 

"The government will give these industrialists as much land as they want within two minutes. But when the poor and tribals request for a little portion of land with folded hands, they will never get it," he said.

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The visit to Gujarat comes two days before the Congress party launches the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' on September 7. The 3,500 km long foot march will cover 12 states and two Union Territories and will be completed in nearly 150 days. The party has prepared a three-month-long campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections due later this year, party leaders said.         

Senior Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul will campaign during this period, they said, adding that the party aims to release its first list of candidates by September 15.

(With PTI inputs)

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