Union minister and BJP MP Smriti Irani on Tuesday dared Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to “take out money” from the pockets of small tea traders of Gujarat and to contest elections from the state if he has “guts”.
She also alleged the Congress’ “hatred and prejudice” towards Gujarat and its people was not new, “as Rahul Gandhi and his party had objected to the proposal to build the Statue of Unity in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat”.
Ms Irani was referring to the remarks made by the former Congress chief at a poll rally in Assam in which he spoke about hiking the daily wage of tea workers by making tea garden owners from Gujarat pay, if his party is voted to power in that state.
“Rahul Gandhi recently said in a rally in Assam that he will take out money from the pockets of small tea traders of Gujarat. Earlier, they (Congress) had issues with the tea seller (PM Narendra Modi), and now they have problems with those who drink tea,” Ms Irani said at a public rally for upcoming elections to local bodies held at Vansda town in Navsari district.
“I want to challenge Rahul Gandhi to try (“azma lo“) Gujarat if he has guts. I also challenge him to contest polls from Gujarat. That will clear all his misconceptions,” the Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development said.
Rahul Gandhi had said the Congress will hike the daily wages of tea garden workers if voted to power in Assam.
“Tea garden workers of Assam get Rs 167 per day, while traders from Gujarat get tea gardens. The Congress will put Rs 365 as daily wage into the pockets of the tea garden workers. Now you will ask me where will the money come from?…It will come from the traders of Gujarat,” he had said.
Ms Irani said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of Gujarat had come up with the idea of constructing a grand monument dedicated to Sardar Patel.
“However, Rahul Gandhi and his family objected to this proposal as their entire politics was always about erasing Sardar Patel’s name from the pages of history,” said Ms Irani.
She alleged that when people are donating iron articles to build Patel’s statue, “I thought that Congress leaders would shun that prejudice and join this movement”.
“But, they could not remove that hatred and prejudice towards Gujarat and Gujaratis from their minds. As instructed by Rahul and his mother (Sonia Gandhi), the opposition party disrespected the Statue of Unity,” the BJP MP alleged.
Elections to six municipal corporations in Gujarat will take place on February 21. Polling for 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats is scheduled on February 28.