Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his government's policies on a range of issues, from economy to agriculture. Addressing a rally at Haryana's Bhiwani - known for sending four boxers from the district to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 - the Congress chief drew an analogy between a boxer and PM Modi to illustrate what he claimed was the failures of the NDA government.
"In the last election, Hindustan put a new boxer, Narendra Modi, in the ring. The 56-inch chest came to the ring. Facing him was a boxer - poverty, farmers' problems, corruption," said Mr Gandhi, whose Lok Sabha constituency Amethi voted in the fifth of the seven-round national election today.
"The crowd was the people of this country. Also present were Narendra Modi ji's coach LK Advani ji and their entire team including (Nitin) Gadkari ji. Then the country said, okay, this boxer will fight poverty, solve farmers' issues, end corruption and fight to put Rs 15 lakh into people's accounts," said Mr Gandhi, drawing a round of laughter from those attending the rally under the blazing sun.
"The boxer comes with much fanfare, lights shining on him," said the Congress chief, fist in the air. "The first thing he does is he looks at the coach and punches Advani ji in the face. Advani ji is shocked. Then he runs after his team. One by one, he punches Gadkari ji, Arun Jaitley ji, dhar, dhar, dhar," said Mr Gandhi, throwing his fists in a mock punch near the mic. The crowd cheered again.
#WATCH Rahul Gandhi in Bhiwani,Haryana: Narendra Modi the boxer was supposed to fight unemployment,farmer problems,corruption etc but he instead turned around & punched his coach Advani ji,his team Gadkari ji Jaitley ji, then went into crowd and punched small traders and farmers pic.twitter.com/jiJAmVxqzO- ANI (@ANI) May 6, 2019
LK Advani is one of the founder members of the BJP. Till the previous election in 2014, he had dodged the BJP's 75-plus age ban on candidates. In March, Mr Advani, 91, was told that Amit Shah would contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, a seat the BJP patriarch has held for six terms.
"People are watching. Then he jumps down from the ring. People ask why he's running away from the ring, where he was supposed to fight the issues. But he goes in the middle of the crowd and punches small shopkeepers twice - notebandi (demonetisation) and Gabbar Singh Tax (referring to the national tax GST). Then he runs after farmers, who tells him, 'boxer saab, please go inside the ring and waive our loans', but dhar, dhar he also hit the farmers. What's happening? Doesn't this boxer understand he has to fight inside the ring?" said the Congress chief.
The Congress maintains that demonetisation broke the back of the country's informal economy and hurt the poor the most, while the Goods and Services Tax introduced in July 2017 slowed down businesses. The Modi government denies the Congress's allegations as that of a frustrated opposition, and claims the economy has picked up and the long-term benefits of the GST are starting to show up.
With inputs from ANI