Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the land acquisition bill on Friday, saying the PM’s ‘56-inch chest’ would soon reduce to a size of 5.6 inches.
Modi had declared at a rally in Uttar Pradesh that “a 56-inch chest” was a pre-requisite to convert India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh into one as developed as Gujarat.
“The farmers, Congress and people of India will turn the ‘56-inch chest’ into a 5.6-inch chest, you will see,” Gandhi said while addressing party workers in Jaipur on Friday. “We won’t give a single inch of land,” the Congress vice-president said.
On Wednesday, Modi said the deadlock over land acquisition was seriously impacting rural development, as Congress chief ministers boycotted the Niti Aayog meeting called by him to discuss the contentious land bill.
As part of its pro-industry agenda, Modi's government has been determined to push through a land bill that seeks to exempt land purchases for certain industrial, housing and infrastructure projects from requiring the consent of 80% of landowners.
“Now that he has become the PM, why would he be concerned about farmers? He made several promises, but they were all empty ones,” Gandhi added. “I liked the film Lagaan. In the movie, the farmers were disunited, but then they got together and protested against tax,” he said.
Gandhi met farmers in Rajasthan on Thursday and assured them his party was firmly with them, and would not allow the BJP-led central government to go ahead with the “anti-farmer” land bill.
The Congress leader also attacked the NDA government over recent allegations of its leaders being involved in corrupt practices. “It is a Lalit Modi government in Rajasthan, Vyapam government in MP, Munde government in Maharashtra,” he said.
“Like during the British Raj days, the remote control of the government in India was in London, the remote control of the Rajasthan government is in London," Gandhi said.
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje is embroiled in a controversy over allegations that she testified in favour of former IPL chief Lalit Modi's British immigration application in 2011 and Lalit Modi made investments in her son's company.
"Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje is all about helping a "bhagoda", but she doesn't want it known in our nation," Gandhi said.