Rahu'sl speeches on note ban resonate with audience

Rahu'sl speeches on note ban resonate with audience

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting at Ramleela Ground, Basoda in Vidisha district. PTI photo

Nearly 25 km south of Bhopal, Mandideep industrial hub, glaringly exemplifies the adverse impact of the demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax (GST).

The impact is unmistakably visible in hundreds of defunct small-scale industrial units and a serpentine line of hundreds of wheat-laden tractor-trolleys outside the Mandi, obstructing heavy vehicular traffic on the national highway.

No wonder then that Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in the small town on Thursday drew particularly lusty cheers from the audience when he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the GST, the note ban and unemployment.

These are the issues resonating with the people in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and the Congress president must have already realised this in his previous election rallies in the state.         

Rahul had come here to canvass votes for former Union minister and four-time Rajya Sabha member Suresh Pachouri who is pitted against BJP minister Surendra Patwa.

His election meeting attracted an enthusiastic crowd of Congressmen in this BJP bastion, indicating the changing mood of the electorate. Victory has eluded the Congress for over a decade in the Bhojpur constituency of which Mandideep is a part.

Locals say the coming election is likely to end the Congress’s long chase for success.

A sizeable number of small traders and farmers in the town told the DH that they intend to give the Congress a chance this time.

The trading community is angry with the BJP over GST and farmers over demonetisation. A three-term anti-incumbency against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has only added to the voters’ disenchantment towards the ruling party.   

“But for the demonetisation which has broken back of our agriculture, we might have voted for the BJP this time again," says a farmer.

He is waiting for his turn to unload the wheat from the tractor-trolley for sale in the Mandi for the last two days, unsure what price his crop might fetch.

Across the road, a mobile-shop owner rues having to fill so many forms to pay the GST that has "destroyed our business".  

Pachouri is hard-selling himself as a quintessential local while dubbing his BJP rival as an outsider who hails from Mandsaur, 300 km from Bhojpur.  

Two-time MLA from Bhojpur, Surendra Patwa is adopted son of former chief minister late Sundar Lal Patwa, who too represented the seat from 1990 to 1998. 

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