BJP president Amit Shah targeted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday, asking if he was dreaming of forming a government in Chhattisgarh under the leadership of a man who had “put to shame” women by allegedly making a fake obscene CD.
Mr Shah also accused Mr Gandhi of supporting “urban Naxals” and asserted that his party will not tolerate the activities of anti-national elements and put them behind bars.
“Rahul Baba, are you dreaming of forming government in Chhattisgarh under the leadership of a person who has put to shame all the women in Chhattisgarh by preparing a fake CD?” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief asked.
He was apparently referring to Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel, an accused in a case involving the circulation of a “sex CD” purportedly featuring a state BJP minister.
The “sex CD” episode had rocked Chhattisgarh last year and Bhupesh Baghel was named as one of the five accused in the case.
The Congress leader has been accused of circulating the CD, which the minister has termed as “fake”. Last month, Bhupesh Baghel was sent to jail in the case and later released on bail by a court.
Addressing a gathering of about 36,000 booth-level BJP workers from Surguja division at the Kala Kendra Grounds in Ambikapur town, Mr Shah asked Mr Gandhi to clarify who would lead his party in next month’s Assembly polls in the state.
“I want to challenge the AICC (All India Congress Committee) president to clarify who will be leading the Congress in Chhattisgarh in the upcoming election,” he said.
The BJP had already made it clear that it would contest the polls under the leadership of Chief Minister Raman Singh, whose three-term rule had transformed the lives of the poor, farmers and tribals of the state, Mr Shah said.
The Congress is yet to formally declare its chief ministerial candidate in Chhattisgarh, which will go the polls in two phases — on November 12 and 20 — for its 90-member Assembly.
Mr Shah said the upcoming Assembly elections in five states would decide the future of the country.
“These polls will decide the future of the country. In 2019, the general election will be held. The Congress party has formed a ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) against the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji-led NDA.
“I appreciate the courage of the Opposition, but I want to ask, how come Rahul Baba is dreaming of forming governments at the Centre and the state (Chhattisgarh)?” he said.
Mr Shah accused Mr Gandhi of supporting the “urban Naxals” recently arrested by the Maharashtra police in connection with a case of violence at Koregaon-Bhima and said the BJP will not tolerate anti-national elements and put them behind bars.
“The BJP government in Maharashtra recently arrested some urban Maoists. During the examination of their laptops, details of purchase of mortars (guns) and communications related to a plot to assassinate the prime minister were found.
“But as soon as they were arrested, Rahul Baba and company started shouting that it was a matter of freedom of expression,” he said.
“I want to ask, is it freedom of expression to conspire to assassinate the prime minister or misguide innocent tribals? Rahul Baba, you keep on backing them.
“Rahul Baba also took the side of those who had raised the ‘Bharat tere tukde honge’ (calling for disintegration of India) slogan. You keep on taking their side, but in the BJP rule, they (anti-national people) will be put in jail,” Shah added.
The BJP chief said instead of seeking an account of the work done by the Modi government in the last four-and-a-half years, the Congress president should answer why development did not reach people during his party’s 55-year rule.
Stating that the BJP did not rely on its leaders alone to win elections, he said it was the lakhs of workers of the party who ensured its victory, unlike other parties that depended on rallies and public meetings of their leaders to win polls.
Referring to the booth-level workers of the saffron party as its “jaan” (life) and “malik” (owner), Mr Shah said, “The BJP is a party of workers where dynasty politics does not exist.”
On the occasion, Mr Shah recalled his life as a booth-level worker of the party.
The greatness of the BJP reflected in the fact that a worker who used to put up posters and banners at booths had become the president of the world’s largest party, he said.
It was possible only in the BJP that the son of a tea seller could become the prime minister, he said, in an apparent reference to PM Modi.
Hailing Chief Minister Singh, Mr Shah said Chhattisgarh, which was once considered a hub of hunger, Maoism, illiteracy and darkness, had now become a centre of power, cement, steel, aluminium, education and healthcare.
“Now, Raman Singhji has been ensuring digital connectivity in the entire state,” he added.
The BJP chief said it was the government of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that had created the new state of Chhattisgarh in 2000.
The BJP is in power in the tribal-dominated state for 15 years under Singh’s leadership.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, of the 90 seats in the state, the BJP had won 49, the Congress 39, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one and an Independent candidate had won one seat.