Rahul plays soldier, farmer card at Shekhawati rally

Women at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's election rally at Sikar in Shekhawati region of Rajasthan on Thursday. DH Photo/Tabeenah Anjum

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that if the Congress forms a government in Rajasthan, it would be of the public, farmers, youth and women, and it would be for their needs. 

He is on a two-day tour of the state.

Striking a chord with farmers and families of soldiers, who were present at the election rally in Sikar, the heart of the Shekhawati region, Rahul said, "There is much similarity between farmers and soldiers. Farmers get up at 4 am and save our motherland, serve the soil. Similarly, soldiers guard our nation round the clock and they will remain a priority of the Congress when it comes to power in Rajasthan and other states." 

The Congress president, who is on a two-day tour of the state, said that his party will set up a food processing plant in every district of Rajasthan if voted to power.

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the latter's policies regarding farmers and soldiers, he said, "PM Modi's policies have been anti-farmer as there is a rise in the (farmer) suicides in Rajasthan. Likewise, the BJP has done nothing for soldiers who have been protecting our country with the help of fighter planes manufactured by government company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), but PM gave Rafale contract to the French company."

"Earlier, the soldiers of Shekhawati with the help of fighter jets made in Bengaluru used to guard India, but now our PM wants foreign players to do so," Rahul said.

Shekhawati region is known for producing the highest number of soldiers and is home to thousands of war widows. The region comprising Churu, Sikar and Jhunjhunu has also witnessed a few farmer movements in recent past.

While addressing thousands of people and Congress workers in jam-packed sports stadium of Sikar, Gandhi also targeted Vasundhara Raje for making false promises to the people of Rajasthan.

"Like PM Modi made a fake promise of Rs 12 lakh in the bank accounts, in similar lines, CM Raje also lied to people by assuring jobs to 15 lakh youth. None of the lies succeeded," he said. 

Interestingly, the same stadium was also a venue for BJP chief Amit Shah and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's rally earlier in the month.

Political expert Ashfaq Kayamkhani opined, "Out of the three rallies that took place in this stadium, the maximum crowd was witnessed in Rahul Gandhi's rally and the lowest was seen at Amit Shah's rally. Approximately, 5,000-10,000 supporters turned for Shah, whereas 70,000-80,000 supporters were present at the Congress rally". 

Shekhawati region has 21 Assembly seats and is dominated by the Jat community.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress was reduced to five seats, whereas the BJP won 11 seats and three seats were won by independent candidates, whereas the BSP got two seats.

Senior leaders present at the rally included, Congress state president Sachin Pilot, former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, and leaders CP Joshi, Chandrabhan, Girija Vyas, Rameshwar Dude, Kamala Beniwal. 

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Rahul plays soldier, farmer card at Shekhawati rally

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