NEW DELHI -- Even though his maiden rally was marred by the absence of key allies, Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi launched an aggressive attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Bihar State Elections.
Addressing the rally at Ramnagar Maidan in West Champaran for about 25 minutes, Gandhi mocked Modi's clothes, criticised his polices, and accused him for favouring the rich and powerful over the underprivileged in the country.
"I have said before that this is a suit-boot government, which is not for the poor, and if you look around here then you will find people wearing kurtas or torn clothes," he said. "Modi ji stared off as a tea seller, but his clothes have only got better, and now he is wearing 15 lakhs suits."
"Modi ji only meets his suit-boot friends, not the poor and the labourers," he said. "If the BJP government comes here then two or three people with suit-boot will come from Delhi and Gujarat, and they will say that we like the piece of land, chuck out the farmers from here."
Gandhi also evoked the historical significance of Champaran, where Mahatma Gandhi joined the indigo farmers in their agitation against the British authorities in 1917. "Mahatma Gandhi started the Congress Party's first battle from here," he said.
The Bihar State Elections over 243 seats will be conducted from October 12 to November 5, and counting day is on November 8.
In a bid to beat the BJP in the upcoming polls, the Congress Party has joined with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal to form an anti-BJP alliance. While former rivals RJD and JD(U) will contest 100 seats each, the Congress Party will field 40 candidates.
Kumar and Yadav said that they were busy with seat allotment and selection of candidates, but their absence from Gandhi's first rally was conspicuous.
Observers said that Yadav's relations with the Gandhi family have blown hot and cold, over the years. In 2013, for instance, Gandhi famously tore up the Congress Party-led government's ordinance, which negated the Supreme Court verdict on disqualifying convicted lawmakers, dubbing it as "complete nonsense." The ordinance would have helped Yadav, who was dismissed as a lawmaker for being convicted in a multi-crore fodder scam
His son, Tejashwi Yadav, attended Gandhi's rally today along with JD(U) General Secretary KC Tyagi.
On the other side, BJP, which is contesting for 160 seats, has formed an alliance with Dalit leaders Ram Vilas Paswan, chief of Lok Janshakti Party (40 seats), Upendra Kushwaha's, who heads Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (23 seats), and Jitan Ram Manhji, who has secured 20 seats for the Hindustani Awam Morcha.