IN ORDER to take on the BJP ahead of the civic polls, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has reportedly asked his party workers in Mumbai to focus on the demonetisation and to extend help and assistance to common people affected by the government’s move.
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Congress leaders said Gandhi emphasised that large number of people are suffering due to the demonetisation decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi also visited two ATM centres in the Vakola area in Santa Cruz East Wednesday afternoon to interact with the citizens and understand the difficulties being faced by them.
“Rahul ji asked us to help the people in filling the forms and provide them facilities such as drinking water and food,” said a Congress legislator, adding that Rahul talked about the situation being similar across the country. “So, this is the time that we should be with the people to tell them about our party and the development work we have undertaken in various areas,” said the Congress leader, requesting anonymity.
“While we have planned around 90 open house discussions on various civic issues, we will talk more on the demonetisation issue, which has affected everyone badly. We have observed in the past few days that the people are most concerned about this issue. Still, we will continue to talk on civic issues too during the open house discussions,” said Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
Nirupam said many open house discussions will take place after November 19, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Gandhi has also asked all the party leaders in Mumbai to be united to fight the Mumbai civic polls. “He strictly warned all of us to keep aside factionalism and work together. We have to come to power in Mumbai with our mayor,” a Congress leader said.
The factionalism in the party came to the fore in June, when senior Congress leader and party general secretary Gurudas Kamat announced his retirement from active politics. Kamat was reportedly upset over being sidelined in Mumbai.
On Tuesday night, the Congress vice-president held a meeting with senior leaders from the city and the state on various issues, including Mumbai civic polls.
Meanwhile, Gandhi also addressed the public a field near Konark Arcade at Bhiwandi, where he had gone in connection with a defamation case filed by an RSS worker. Hundreds of Congress supporters and onlookers thronged outside the court premises. Congress flags were waved while the people waited to catch a glimpse of Gandhi. He shared the stage with other Congress leaders, including Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Ashok Chavan and Congress Party President of Bhiwandi Shoyeb Guddu.
During his address, Gandhi criticised the implementation of the demonetisation move. In his very first sentence to the gathering, he asked if everyone had collected their Rs 4,000 and received indelible ink marks.
“You won’t see any industrialist in line with you at the banks. In the last two years, Narendra Modi has waived 1,10,000 crore worth tax money off 15-20 industrialists whom his government serves — I will not name them here, everyone knows who they are — and it is money from your pockets which will fund this exemption, he said.