Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, 23 April, termed Amit Shah a "murder-accused", prompting a strong rebuttal from the BJP chief who questioned the opposition leader's "legal knowledge", saying the "fake" charge was dismissed as "politically motivated" by the court long ago.
Addressing election rallies in Madhya Pradesh, Gandhi also launched a no-holds-barred attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, saying an inquiry will be instituted into it if the Congress came to power.
Attacking the BJP president, Gandhi said, "Murder accused BJP chief Amit Shah. Wah, kya shaan hai! (Wow, what a glory!)"
Gandhi's jibe elicited a sharp reaction from Shah.
"Let me tell you the gist of the order. I was slapped with a fake case and the court has already passed its order that it was a politically motivated allegation and was without any evidence. I don't want to make any comment on the legal knowledge of Rahul Gandhi," he said.
In 2014, a special court discharged Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter killing cases, holding there existed "no case" against him and that he had been implicated for "political reasons".
The Congress chief's attacks came as he addressed campaign rallies at Sihora and Shahdol in the state.
Speaking at Sihora, near Jabalpur, Gandhi once again raised the slogan 'chowkidar chor hai' to target Modi over the Rafale deal.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court issued criminal contempt notice to Gandhi for incorrectly attributing the remark 'chowkidar chor hai' to the apex court.
"This is a beautiful slogan," he said, and uttered, "Chwokidar", to which the people added, "chor hai (is a thief)."
The price of the Rafale fighter jet increased from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,600 crore under the deal signed by the Modi government, and the contract to manufacture it was given to Ambani's firm instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), he alleged.
"If the Congress is voted to power, I will ensure that Rafale jets are made in India and not in France. The new deal will protect the interest of India and not of France," the Congress chief said.
He also dared Modi for a minimum 20-minute debate on the Rafale deal and corruption in the country.
Had the Rafale jets been made in the country, Gandhi said, then Jabalpur, that houses an ordnance factory, would have benefited as the ammunition used by the jets would have been made there, and over one lakh youths would have got employment.
"The Rafale fighter jet contract was snatched from HAL, which is an expert in making Mig, Miraj and Jaguar fighter planes. I will ensure that the Congress government recovers the Rs 30,000 crore gift of Modi to Anil Ambani," he said.
The charge that the deal benefitted Ambani's firm has been repeatedly denied by the company. The government has also denied there was any corruption in the deal.
Talking about the genesis of the 'chowkidar' slogan, Gandhi claimed that it came from two members of a gathering he addressed in Chhattisgarh about one-and-a-half years ago.
"I saw that two youths were among the public, hearing my speech....I told them that Narendra Modi called himself (nation's) chowkidar, (and) the two youths suddenly replied, 'chor hai'," he said.
"When the prime minister comes and makes false claims, just ask him why he gave Rs 30,000 crore to Ambani and what Ambani did for him in return," the Congress chief said.
"Jay Shah (Amit Shah's son) made Rs 80 crore from Rs 50,000 in three months and the prime minister is telling youths to make pakoras. Why should our youths not make Rafale jets?" Gandhi said.
Jay, BJP chief Amit Shah's son, has dragged an English news portal to court, claiming that it falsely reported that the turnover of his firms increased dramatically from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80 crore after 2014.
After the Congress comes to power, an inquiry would be instituted in the Rafale deal, Gandhi said.
"Rafale deal would be probed and two names would come out, Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani," he said.
"The money I will recover from people like Anil Ambani will be used for Nyay scheme, where every eligible family will get Rs 72,000 annually," the Congress president further said, referring to his party's promised minimum income scheme.
At Shahdol, Gandhi said that "one chowkidar has brought disrespect to all the chowkidars". "All chowkidars are not thieves".
"Narendra Modi has looted the poor and helped multi-billionaires like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya who escaped with India's money," he said.
After these elections, "no farmer will go to jail for loan dues," he said.
Under the Nyay scheme, women from five crore poor families will get Rs 6,000 per month, which would be a surgical strike on poverty, the Congress chief said, adding the scheme will help Madhya Pradesh a lot as the state has a large number of poor families.
"We stand by our promises," Gandhi said, pointing out that his party's newly-elected governments waived farm loans in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, as promised.
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