Congress president Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a public meeting at Bajipura village in Gujarat's Tapi district, reiterated the farmer-friendly measures of the Congress manifesto, namely a special budget for farmers and a law to stop jailing farmers who default on loan payments due to crop loss, and said that if voted to power, the Congress government would do a "surgical strike on garibi (poverty)" and fill the existing government job vacancies.
He also said that Congress governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had implemented the loan waivers as promised ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls.
"Narendra Modi has done a surgical strike on farmers, poor, and unemployed youths. We will do a surgical strike on garibi," said Gandhi. "When we form the government, we will take money from (businessmen) Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi, nirav Modi and deposit it in your bank accounts," he added, referring to the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme promised in the Congress manifesto, whereby the most economically backward people would be given a minimum income guarantee of Rs 72,000 per annum.
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As Rahul targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "The chowkidar (watchman) is not seen outside the house of farmers or unemployed youths but only seen outside the house of Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi, and Vijay Mallya," the crowd chanted "Chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)".
Rahul himself never raised the slogan once in his 26-minute speech, and instead chose to explain a bit of economics to voters. "He (Narendra Modi) has taken money from your pocket, and you have stopped purchasing goods like shirts, pants, watches, and mobile phones," Rahul explained. "This led to the shutdown of factories in India and many labourers lost their jobs. The unemployment rate is now at its highest in the past 45 years."
He continued: "Under the NYAY Scheme, an amount of Rs. 72,000 will directly go into the bank amount of women. Then you will start shopping and when you shop, the factory will start functioning, and the unemployment issue will be solved."
He also said, if voted to power, "We will give 22 lakh government jobs in one year, which are (currently) vacant, and 10 lakh youths will be given jobs in various panchayats".
Bajipura is in Tapi district, which falls under the Bardoli Lok Sabha constituency. Senior Congress leader Rajiv Satav, and three candidates of the Congress party, from Surat – Ashok Patel, Bardoli – Tushar Chaudhary, and Navsari – Dharmesh Patel, were present.