In Punjab, Sonia calls Modi model a sham
Barnala, April 26
BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, during a series of rallies in Punjab yesterday, had offered various formulae of prosperity and development in the state while promising a “strong” and “reactive” national government.
In Barnala for her first and the only rally in the state during this general election, Sonia sought to rip apart the SAD-BJP alliance over their “self above people” policies and called them “partners in crime” over issues such as ouster of Punjab farmers from Gujarat and misuse of Central funds.
Refraining from replying to Modi’s “Maa-bete ki sarkar” (mother-son government) jibe yesterday, Sonia brought the crowd alive by predicting doom for the country if Modi became the Prime Minister. “Hey bhagwan, is desh ko Modi model se bachao” (Oh God, please save the country from Narendra Modi model), she said.
She followed it up by taking on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family. On Badals’ claims of ushering in development in the state, Sonia said: “Badal garajna jaante hein, barasna nahi” (Badals make hollow promises of development but do not deliver).
She claimed the Badals and Modi were not worried about the problems of the farmers and traders. “The BJP is not serious and the Badals focus on filling their coffers alone.”
She said both would have to account for the utilisation of Central grants soon.
She saluted the farmers for cultivating the fields with their sweat and the valour of Punjabis who had made supreme sacrifices. She said the UPA government gave best MSPs for crops and implemented “one rank, one pension” for the ex-servicemen. She touched upon the issues of employees and Dalits and spoke about better roads and healthcare, especially cancer affecting the region.
In stark contrast to high security around Narendra Modi’s rallies, the Congress rally organisers kept it simple allowing free movement to people despite threat perception to Sonia.
PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa and former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh stayed away from the rally. Party in-charge for Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmed later said he had asked the two leaders to campaign in their respective constituencies.
Sonia reached the venue accompanied by Shakeel Ahmed and SAD (Longowal) chief Surjit Kaur Barnala.
Congress campaign committee (Punjab) chairperson Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said the Congress government honoured the Sikhs by making renowned economist Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister twice, but the SAD-BJP alliance discredited Navjot Singh Sidhu - a renowned Sikh cricketer. She said the Congress government had waived the Rs 37,000 debt of the state.
Party candidate from Sangrur Vijay Inder Singla cited new hospital and better rail connectivity for the area to muster support. Sonia could not organise more rallies due to ill-health and police reluctance to provide security for a road show and rallies in other parts of the state. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address a rally in Bathinda and other parts of the state.
Capt, Bajwa stay away
PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa and former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh stayed away from the rally. Party in-charge for Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmed said he had asked the two to campaign in their respective - Gurdaspur and Amritsar - constituencies.
What she said