Surat: Sharpening his attack on the Congress in his home state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the erstwhile Indira Gandhi government played the “drama” of nationalising banks to “cover up” the “unceremonious” sacking of then Finance Minister Morarji Desai, a Gujarati.
Addressing a rally in Kadodara area of the city ahead of the first phase polling on December 9, Modi also accused the Congress of creating a "rift" in the society through its "caste-based" politics and said Gujarat is still paying the price of their "sins" committed 25 years ago.
Invoking Gujarati pride, Modi said, "Morarji Desai, a Gujarati from Surat, was unceremoniously sacked as Finance Minister by Indira Gandhi overnight. After being sacked, Desai had said that he was discarded like a vegetable."
He said nationalisation of banks was a "drama" played by the erstwhile Congress government to "cover up" the sacking of Desai.
"Immediately after sacking him (Desai), banks were nationalised overnight as part of the government's face-saving exercise (though) it was claimed that banks were nationalised to serve the poor," he said.
Modi said despite "sacrificing" Desai, the doors of banks did not open for the poor.
The PM said it was his government which actually opened the doors of the banks for the poor. "When we came to power (in 2014), those doors that were closed for almost 30 crore poor, we then opened those doors by introducing the PM Jan Dhan Yojna," he added.
In a veiled dig at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Modi said the BJP during its rule in Gujarat has "forced" people to visit temples.
"They (Congress leaders) ask me what BJP did in this 22 years (rule in Gujarat). (Among others things) We have compelled many people to visit temples," Modi said evoking a loud cheer from the crowd.
Gandhi, who visited a string of temples during his party's ongoing campaign in Gujarat, has been accused by the BJP of playing the "soft Hindutva card".
Against the backdrop of the Congress's efforts of caste consolidation by forging ties with Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani, leaders of OBCs, Patidars and Dalits, respectively, Modi said, "The opposition party wants to tread the same path which had destroyed the social fabric of Gujarat when they were in power 25 years ago."
"The Congress had created a rift between two brothers through caste-based politics. Though you (Congress) managed to gain power through such experiments in the past, Gujarat is still paying the price of your sins, committed 25 years back," he said.
"And now, you want to walk the same old path? Is this the way you want to woo today's youth?" Modi asked.
He was apparently referring to KHAM, which stands for stands for Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim, the communities the Congress brought together to gain power in the state in the 1980s.
He said the people of Gujarat have moved forward from the Congress-era and that the party should not be under the impression that their "tricks" would succeed now.