Rahul strikes emotional chord with voters, attacks BJP

Churu/Alwar (Rajasthan), Oct 23 (IANS) Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday launched a direct attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while making an emotional pitch among voters in poll-bound Rajasthan.

The BJP hit back asking if he had any solutions to India's current problems.

Voting for the assembly in the state is slated Dec 1 and counting Dec 8 in an election where the Congress is trying hard to retain power ahead of the 2014 national polls.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi accused the BJP of sparking communal tensions for political benefits.

"I am against the kind of politics BJP does as they spark fire of tension for political benefits ... they hurt people for political gains," said Gandhi.

"They (BJP) will go to Muzaffarnagar and set fire. They will go to Gujarat and set fire. They will go to (Jammu and) Kashmir and will do the same. We have to run from pillar to post to douse the fire."

Deriding the BJP's divisive politics, he said he wanted the people of India to be united.

However, Gandhi surprised the crowd with his praise for former vice president and BJP stalwart Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

"Shekhawatji deserves respect as he was a Hindustani leader first and then a Rajput leader," he said.

In reaction, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "Rahul Gandhi has nothing to offer for the current problems of India." Prasad targeted the central government over the high prices of onions, saying, "The government, it appears, has lost control."

Gandhi equated the plight of the people of Uttar Pradesh's riot-ravaged Muzaffarnagar district with himself.

"My grandmother was murdered. My father was murdered. Now I may also be killed one day. I don't care about it," said Gandhi.

His grandmother, then prime minister Indira Gandhi, and his father, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, were both assassinated. While Indira Gandhi was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards in Delhi Oct 31, 1984, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber at a political rally in Tamil Nadu May 21, 1991.

Noting that "anger is seeded in people", Gandhi recalled the 1984 incident to share his story with the people.

"When I reached home, I saw blood of my grandmother on the road and the blood of two security guards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in a room. They had always been like my friends. The incident filled me with rage. It took me 10-15 years to calm down my anger," said Gandhi.

Noting that anger is not only generated by murder, but by lack of basic amenities, he highlighted the welfare schemes of the central government.

"Unemployment and hunger also create anger. We are working towards eradicating these things. That is why we brought in employment guarantee scheme and food security bill," said Gandhi.

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