Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today began his campaign for Assembly polls in north Gujarat with a visit to the famous Akshardham temple here.
Akshardham temple belongs to the Swaminarayan sect, which has a huge following among the Patel community, and the Congress is trying to woo the community ahead of the Assembly election to be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14. Gandhi arrived here this morning and went to the Akshardham temple. He offered prayers to Lord Swaminarayan at the temple and began his three-day tour which will cover six districts. The BJP criticised the move, saying Gandhi was visiting Hindu temples just ahead of elections to get votes.
“Why Rahul Gandhi is only visiting temple ahead of elections. People know their intentions that they want to get votes by such gimmicks. They have no inclination of devotion as during Rahul Gandhi’s earlier trip he never visited any temple,” Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said. “We wish that Congress sheds its pseudo-secularism and respect mainstream Hindutva, but their gimmicks to get votes will not work in Gujarat,” Patel said.
However, the Congress hit back, saying people will teach the BJP a lesson as it is opposing a visit to temple. “Does anybody have patent on devotion? They are opposing a visit to the temple. People of Gujarat will teach them a lesson,” Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said.
“Rahul Gandhiji has visited Jain temple and Gurudwaras apart from Hindu temples. We believe in secularism,” he said. Gandhi is going to visit the famous Ambaji temple in Banaskantha district in north Gujarat this evening. He had started his campaign in the western state with a visit to the renowned Dwarkadheesh temple.
Union Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi saying he should give up the hope of winning the Gujarat Assembly polls. The Union Minister had hit back at Rahul for criticising the Goods and Services tax (GST) implemented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre.
“Rahul is an MP from Amethi Lok Sabha Constituency for the last 13 years and Gandhi-Nehru has ruled the Amethi Constituency for 50 years. He should be worried about the fact that in the Uttar Pradesh elections last year, the Congress could not win a single seat out of his five Vidhan Sabha seats,” she said. Irani added,”So someone who could not win his five Vidhan Sabha seats, should stop dreaming about winning Gujarat elections. We and the people of Gujarat will not let this dream come true.?
Taking a jibe at the Congress leader for his statement on development in Gujarat, she said, “When Rahul talks of development, he should know that we went to lay the foundation stone of the collector’s office of his constituency.”
“He was not even able to build the collector’s office, provide roads, education, health to his constituency. So on what basis is he talking about development in Gujarat?? she questioned.
The Congress has been critical of GST ever since it was implemented.
“In GST Council meeting, the Congress was also included. All the decisions have been taken till now on the basis of consensus. During the Congress rule, the GST was not passed as the state governments did not have faith in the party. In GST, someone whose annual income is below Rs 20 lakh is already exempted and that means poor are exempted from GST,” Irani opined.
The Congress vice-president had called for structural changes in the uniform tax regime and termed GST as Gabbar Singh Tax.
Speaking at a rally in Gandhinagar, Gandhi said, “It’s a good thing that the BJP government has slashed the tax rate from 28 percent to 18 percent for many products due to the pressure made by the Congress party and the people of India. He further said, “We are still not happy and won’t stop here. India doesn’t want five different types of taxes, we want one. There’s a need to make structural changes in the Goods and Services Tax (GST).”
Earlier on Wednesday, while interacting with traders in Gujarat’s Surat, Rahul said that Congress will reassess and restructure the GST, if they come to power at the Centre in the 2019 general elections.(