‘You’ve suffered, now enough is enough’ — Rahul Gandhi says BJP set to meet Ayodhya fate in Gujarat

‘You’ve suffered, now enough is enough’ — Rahul Gandhi says BJP set to meet Ayodhya fate in Gujarat

New Delhi: Asserting that “enough is enough”, Rahul Gandhi Saturday said that the Congress will dislodge the BJP from power in Gujarat in the next assembly election, due in 2027, “just like we defeated them in Ayodhya”.

“We will have to teach them a lesson,” he said, addressing a convention of his party’s workers in Ahmedabad in his first visit to Gujarat after the Lok Sabha elections which gave the Congress a new lease of life — 99 MPs, compared to 52 in 2019, and 44 in 2014.

Gandhi, in a combative speech, said the Congress will contest the 2027 elections in the state with full vigour, admitting that it did not do so in the 2022 assembly election which saw its tally shrink to 17.

The Gujarat assembly has 182 seats.

Since 1995, the BJP has won seven consecutive elections in the state which had Narendra Modi as the chief minister between 2001 and 2014, when he took charge as the prime minister.

“When they vandalised our office, I realised we have an opportunity here. We are going to break their government just like they damaged our office,” Gandhi said, exhorting Congress workers to face the BJP with boldness and courage.

There were clashes between the workers of the Congress and the BJP outside the Gujarat Congress office on 2 July during a protest by the BJP’s youth wing over Gandhi’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Hinduism and the BJP.

Gujarat Police have arrested five Congress workers in connection with the case.

While Gandhi had attacked the BJP, saying a party that “spreads violence and hatred round the clock” cannot represent the Hindus, Modi had hit back, accusing the Congress MP of “insulting” Hindu religion and its followers.

On Saturday, “daro mat, darao mat” (don’t be scared or scare) was the refrain in Gandhi’s speech in which he taunted Modi over the latter’s statement made during interviews during the Lok Sabha election campaign that he could be on a divinely ordained mission.

“If that is the case, then how did you lose Ayodhya? The PM believes everyone else is biological, only he is non-biological. How can such a person offer a vision to the people?” Gandhi said in his address in the Gujarat Congress headquarters in Ahmedabad.

Rahul Gandhi will be travelling to Manipur Monday, his third visit since the beginning of the ethnic violence in the state, where the Congress has won both Lok Sabha seats.

‘It’s not as if Congress doesn’t have shortcomings in Gujarat’

He also drew a contrast between the BJP and his party, saying unlike in the ruling party in the Centre where “everyone is scared of Modi”, in the Congress “no one is fearful of pointing out even my mistakes”.

The BJP’s defeat in Ayodhya, which is an assembly segment in the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency that the Samajwadi Party won, was significant as this is where the party’s movement centred around the Ram Temple began, Gandhi said.

“It’s a strange thing. The movement of BJP was founded in Ram Mandir and Ayodhya. It began with L.K. Advani’s rath yatra. It is said that Modi helped Advani in that yatra. Then inaugurated Ram Mandir…Before the elections they tried to politicise Lord Ram. The centre of Advani’s movement was Ayodhya and the INDIA bloc has defeated that movement,” Gandhi said.

The BJP’s defeat was a given, Gandhi said, alleging that people in Ayodhya who saw their homes and shops being razed, land being acquired for the construction of an airport, did not receive fair compensation.

Gandhi said the BJP would meet a similar fate in Gujarat. And to ensure that, the Congress would put its best foot forward by launching an aggressive campaign, a manifesto after holding extensive consultations with people.

“It’s not as if the Congress doesn’t have shortcomings in Gujarat. We have to recognise that. One worker told me there are two types of horses — one meant for races and the other marriages. At times the Congress party uses the horses meant for races in weddings, and the ones for weddings in races,” he said, drawing chuckles from the gathering.

“In the last election, we did not fight the BJP properly. In 2017, we fought for three to four months, and you saw the outcome…we reached the finish line in three months and now we have three years. A new Congress will emerge from Gujarat,” he said.

In the 2017 assembly election in Gujarat, the Congress gave the BJP a scare as it registered its best performance in over two decades, winning 77 seats. The BJP settled with 99 seats.

But in 2022, the BJP romped home with 156 seats, reducing the Congress to 17, and a vote share of 27.28 percent, down from 41.4 percent in 2017. The AAP ended up getting a vote share of 12.9 percent and five seats in the assembly.

Although the AAP is now a constituent of the INDIA bloc, Gandhi has not yet spoken on whether the two parties will have any seat-sharing in Gujarat in the next assembly polls.

The Congress state leadership is against any such alliance which was in place in the Lok Sabha polls as the party set aside two seats for the AAP in Gujarat. The AAP lost both the seats — Bhavnagar and Bharuch.

Addressing party workers, Gandhi said it’s been over three decades that the Congress has been out of power in the state. “You have suffered a lot, insulted, abused, enough is enough. We will have to teach them a lesson,” he said, invoking Lord Shiva and the “Abhaya Mudra” like he recently did in his first speech in the Lok Sabha as the Leader of the Opposition.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: Urdu press praises Rahul Gandhi for accepting LoP post, highlights his rise in politics


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