New Delhi: With Rahul Gandhi back from his two-month sabbatical, the Congress launched a full-fledged attack on the BJP government at a big rally of farmers in Delhi today, bringing out its heavy artillery against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed land reforms.
"I want to tell Modi, enough is enough. The country's farmers and workers have seen through his empty promises," said Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her speech at Delhi's Ramlila grounds, where most political protests are held in the capital.
She spoke right after her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi, for whom today's rally is seen as kicking off a comeback. About 80,000 people attended, in a show of strength by the opposition party, which is attempting a political resurrection after humiliating defeats in last year's national elections and multiple state polls thereafter.
Central to those plans is Rahul Gandhi, who his party said was away for 57 days to "introspect." Today, he attacked PM Modi and his government over the land acquisition bill, which makes it easier to acquire land for industrial and key infrastructure projects.
"'Make in India' is Modiji's dream that will not work. They will take away your land and you will have no other employment," said Rahul Gandhi, also alleging, "I tell you how Modi ji won the election. He took loans of thousands of crores from big industrialists from which his marketing was done. How will he pay back that loan now? He will do it by giving your land to those top industrialists. He wants to weaken the farmers, then snatch their land and give it to his industrialist friends."
Both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi accused PM Modi of "abandoning" farmers. "The Modi government is anti-poor, anti-farmer. We will now fight and not let those forces win which want to destroy us. We might not be in govt but there will be no setback in our efforts for you," Mrs Gandhi said.
Parliament's Budget Session - the first part of which Mr Gandhi controversially skipped - reconvenes tomorrow. The Congress, which has a majority in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House and had blocked the land bill last month, and is set to do the same when it is introduced again.
Some time before the Congress rally began, PM Modi addressed a workshop of his party's MPs, projecting his government as pro-poor and pro-farmers and lashing out at his critics for their "congenital habit" of running down the BJP.
After the Congress rally, the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad took a dig at Rahul Gandhi, saying, "Did the Congress introspect at all? And even if they did, they couldn't come up with a new speech? I think Congress has made up its mind to lose with a worse margin the next time."