Congress leader Sam Pitroda today challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a debate on "issues", alleging that the BJP government at the centre had failed to deliver on promises made during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign. Mr Pitroda said, "Come, debate on issues. Have a debate with (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi and, if not him, then debate with me. I am also a Gujarati".
He was quoted in a PTI news report, "Modi has misused the public money on self-promotion and advertisement". He also claimed that over half the budget for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao was spent on advertisement.
Rahul Gandhi made a similar comment in January, linking to a media report by The Quint news website.
Modi Bachao,— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 22, 2019
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The report claimed that four years after the launch of one of PM Modi's flagship programs, over 56 per cent of the funds were spent on "media-related activities".
The figure was based off an answer to a Lok Sabha question, asked of Virendra Kumar, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, on 4 January.
He also took aim at the Modi government's record of job creation and promised that NYAY, the Congress' minimum income scheme, launched in March, would kick-start the rural economy.
The proposed scheme was criticised by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who says the money promised is "less than 2/3rd of what is already being given" under the current administration.
"It (the BJP government) also faltered on the promise of 100 smart cities. They promised to double farmers'' income, but it has declined," he added, "The national debt has increased by 50 per cent. Budget on education has been cut from 4.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent".
The Congress leader's comments came as poll rhetoric between BJP and Congress heats up.
PM Modi has targeted former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on two separate counts - calling him "bhrashtchar no 1 (corrupt no 1)" and alleging misuse of a Navy aircraft carrier (which claim has been denied by the former commander of the ship - INS Viraat) - following the opposition's relentless attack on the Rafale fighter jet deal and, as of today, claims PM Modi used Air Force jets as his "own taxi".
Mr Pitroda said the Prime Minister was eager to talk about non-issues like Rahul Gandhi's citizenship (which issue the Supreme Court has dismissed) and Rajiv Gandhi's term as Prime Minister and his assassination because he had nothing else to discuss from the past five years.