Sunil Raghu, Mehsana/Bechraji, DH News Service, Nov 13 2017, 23:31 IST
Rahul stuck to his usual style of Modi-bashing over demonetisation and 'Gabbar Singh Tax'. PTI
Mehsana in North Gujarat has been a hotbed of Patel quota stir and one would have expected a massive rally by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on the last day of his fourth and final three-day roadshow 'Navsarjan Gujarat' in the home district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The organisers, instead, decided to hold his meeting at a smaller venue located right next to the Swaminarayan temple, which could host not more than a couple of thousand people. The Swaminarayan sect, like the BJP in Gujarat, has many Patels as followers.
As expected, a majority of those who came donned the cap of Patel quota stir and welcomed Rahul with their signature mobile flashlights. There was a scramble to have a glimpse at Rahul, with many dashing towards the venue as he arrived on stage.
But that was it. "We have seen him, what more is there to hear," said the women as they left the venue with children.
Rahul stuck to his usual style of Modi-bashing over demonetisation and 'Gabbar Singh Tax'. The crowd turned attentive only on a few occasions - when it was announced that some local Patel leaders were joining the Congress, when Rahul was made to wear the Patel cap, or when he touched upon the topic of Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's firm witnessing a "magical" growth amid the "rubble of demonetisation within 3-4 months".
Rahul also tried to show his softer side by telling the crowd not to seek revenge. "Many people say that we need to take revenge in December. What we want is change, not revenge. Whatever happens... Modiji is India's PM. Even if he abuses us, we will respect his position," he said.
If Patels dominated the Mehsana audience, the earlier venue at Bechraji sported the red flags of Thakor Sena led by Alpesh Thakor, who recently joined the Congress. Rahul, who began his day from Patan by paying respects at the Veer Meghmaya temple that houses a Dalit mythological figure who is believed to have sacrificed his life to abolish untouchability, was in Bechraji to pay tributes to the deity revered by the communities in the region.
At Bechraji, he invoked Lord Shiva's name. "I am a follower of Lord Shiva and I believe in truth. Let the BJP say whatever it wants to, but I believe in my truth," said Rahul, apparently referring to the reverence Modi had shown towards the lord. The prime minister, during his recent visit to his hometown in Vadnagar (located not very far from Bechraji), had said that with the blessings of Shiva, he could digest even poison, in reference to Opposition attacks.
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