Taking the SAD-BJP combine head-on over the sacrilege issue, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday warned of strong action against the culprits behind the Bargari and other cases of desecration of the holy scriptures, saying the perpetrators of these crimes and the subsequent incidents of police firing would not be spared.Recalling his earlier visit to the region, which was rocked by a spate of sacrilege incidents and the Behbal Kalan & Kotkapura firing incidents, Rahul said those who insulted religious scriptures did not deserve any mercy.Addressing rallies, along with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, in support of the Congress candidate from Faridkot, Mohd. Sadique, and from Ludhiana, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Rahul lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for insulting Punjab, and the rest of India, by claiming that no development was done in 70 years and the nation was sleeping till he came to power.“Where were you when the Punjab farmers were driving the Green Revolution?” he asked Modi, lashing out at the prime minister for believing that he alone could run the country. It is the people of India who are running the country with their blood and sweat, declared, asserting that the Congress believed in taking every Indian, irrespective of cast, region, community, along for the development of the nation.While reiterating employment generation and farmer welfare as the key priorities of the Congress, Raul reached out to the people in Ludhiana with the promise to put all the party’s strength into reviving small and medium businesses. India cannot challenge China without `Made in Ludhiana’, which has to be an integral part of `Make in India’, he said, adding that without reviving small and medium businesses even employment generation could not be successful.
Listing out NYAY, separate farmers’ budget, and promise of employment for youth as the major planks of the Congress manifesto, Rahul said the Modi government had not only failed the people on all counts but had stolen money from the people to fill the pockets of a handful of rich industrialists, helping many of them to flee the country instead of throwing them in prison for defaulting on loans worth crores of rupees.Questioning what had happened to Modi’s promise of `achche din’, the Congress president said after five years, Modi was not talking of any subject on which he had come to power, including jobs, Rs 15 lakh in individla bank accounts, doubling of farm income and corruption.From making fun of Dr Manmohan Singh and his progressive economic policies, Modi had ended up becoming the butt of India’s joke in five years, having cheated the nation with his brazen lies and open deception. Modi had ruined the nation’s economy, which NYAY would revive, said Rahul, adding that like diesel in a tractor, the scheme will work as fuel to jumpstart economy.Countering Modi’s claim that there was no money to fund NYAY, Rahul said the Congress would get the money back from thieves like Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya, Chowksi etc.The Congress president took Modi in the Rafale deal and his failure to accept the challenge for a debate on this and other issues such as the financial madness called demonetisation, Rahul said the prime minister was scared to do that as he would not be able to show his face to the people of India after just 15 minutes of debating.Modi’s fear was showing in his pre-written media interviews with prepared answers to planned questions, said Rahul, ridiculing the prime minister over his `personal’ interview, in which he spoke only of irrelevant things like how he eats mangoes and how he fits his clothes into the suitcase. Demonetisation, he told people in Ludhiana, was aimed not at eliminating black money but at destroying the small and medium industries in Ludhiana and other such places.
Rahul also flayed Modi over the latter’s personal attacks on his (Nehru-Gandhi) family, saying the prime minister does not know what he is saying and is just speaking for the sake of speaking. “But I will continue to counter his hatred with love, because that is in our DNA, that is the message I have learnt from the people of Punjab and that was taught by Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji,” he added.Captain Amarinder Singh, in his address, asked the people to decide if they wanted the current prime minister, who thinks like the Akalis and tries to destroy the nation’s secular fabric by trying to polarise the people, or someone who respects all religions and considers all Indians as one.The Chief Minister lashed out at the Akalis for destroying Punjab’s economy, which his government was trying to revive with the limited resources available to them. Despite the fiscal crunch, his government had launched farm loan waiver scheme, becoming the only state to give up to Rs 2 lakh under it. He reiterated his demand for in toto implementation of the MS Swaminathan Committee report to make agriculture remunerative for farmers.Captain Amarinder Singh, while sharing details of the work done by his government to revive industry, generate employment and uplift all sections of the society, declared his commitment to 100% implementation of all promises. When Rahul becomes prime minister, he would request for support to revive Punjab’s industry, said the Chief Minister, adding that with the help of the central government the state would accelerate the pace of its development manifold.This election will decide the future of Punjab, and the nation, said Captain Amarinder, urging the people not to vote a `pakhandi’ (cheater) again to power.The Chief Minister also congratulated the students of the state’s government schools for their excellent results, assuring them of continued investments by his government in boosting education infrastructure and facilities.