Congress president Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being a chowkidar (watchman) only for rich fugitive businessmen such as Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi at a rally in West Bengal's Malda district today, news agency PTI reported. The political event, held to kickstart the party's poll campaign in the eastern state, had witnessed unruly scenes by restive supporters earlier in the day.
Mr Gandhi alleged that PM Modi was not above spreading falsehoods to gain a few more votes. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps lying all day, and he lies wherever he goes... The upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state will be between ideologies. On the one hand, you have the Congress party that's fighting to keep the country united, and on the other, you have the BJP-RSS combine that wants to divide the country along caste and religious lines," PTI quoted the Congress chief as saying.
He went on to accuse the Prime Minister of defending "corrupt and fugitive" businessmen such as Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya, who fled the country after defrauding its banks, and allegedly looting Rs 30,000 crore in public money by renegotiating the Rafale deal in favour of industrialist Anil Ambani.
Earlier, Congress supporters threw chairs and broke barricades to protest the "lack of proper seating arrangements" at the Malda rally venue. Party leaders and police personnel subdued the crowd before Mr Gandhi arrived around 3 pm.
The Congress alleges that Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya managed to flee India for foreign countries such as the United Kingdom and Antigua in connivance with the centre. It also claims that the Narendra Modi government reworked the previous UPA government's deal for Rafale aircraft in an attempt to favour debt-laden industrialist Anil Ambani.
West Bengal, with 42 seats, will witness polling during all seven phases of the elections. The votes will be counted on May 23.
(With inputs from PTI)
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal