Surat/Junagadh: As Congress morale flags, Sonia Gandhi used her second round of campaign in the poll-bound Gujarat to spew fresh venom on her 'bete noire' Narendra Modi on Friday.
"Modi is a bluff... He has cheated 6 crore Gujaratis, especially people in southern part of the state. He has always turned a deaf ear to your woes. My family, including Indiraji and Rajivji have always worked for you beloved people... So, please take our relation to another high by presenting the Congress rip-roaring victory in the forthcoming elections," Gandhi said.
"When Indiraji came here in 1977, you showed so much affection. But, there are people who tried to break links with Congress... I want you to teach them a good lesson."
In a cluttered speech: She said: "Modi and Company turn Nelson's eye to drought, severe water and power crisis, malnutrition, famers' suicides, escalating crime rate... they only lust for power."
"The UPA-led Central regime has waived off farmers' loans, but still they are committing suicide in the state... Why? I ask why? It is because of anti-people policies of the BJP government," the Congress chief, who looked not so confident, alleged.
Addressing the crowd in the tribal-dominated Mandvi (Surat), she said: "We sanctioned crores of rupees to all states, including Gujarat. Still your life is in a mess. There's darkness of misrule in Gujarat, we are the glimmer of hope. Give the reins of Gujarat to us and we will show you the difference.
"The UPA gave crores to Gujarat, but I do not know where that money has gone... This is a gigantic scam for siphoning off public money. It was in Congress rule that scheduled tribes got employment opportunities. But, BJP derailed all developmental programmes launched by us."
Gandhi said: "Modi's Gujarat does not look vibrant at all. Let me tell you the other side of the story... I have not seen the development that your CM boosts about. Look at the unemployment in the region. You lack basic amenities such as water, electricity, and education. How will you prosper under his rule?"
"Congress has always been pro-poor. Modi launched Van Bandhu Scheme in 2009-10, claiming to have spent 15,000 crore on tribals. I doubt if the benefits reached the area," she added.
In Junagarh, Sonia alleged, "There has been gross diversion of funds under Modi rule. The BJP government has eaten away all the money given by the Centre. How can you give a third term to such a person. Don't let this happen for heaven's sake."
Taking umbrage to Modi's criticism over 2G and CWG scams, she said: "The Centre okayed several crores of rupees under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to the state... I don't have to give a second thought when I say 60% of funds were diverted to one high-profile seat of Gujarat."
"You all are intelligent enough to understand whom I am reffering to and which seat am talking about," she said in a veiled attack on the chief minister.
Gandhi said: "In last 10 years, Modi regime has cheated farmers and tribals in the area. His claims of creating 2.25 ponds have proved to be hollow... He has even failed to fill the existing ponds."
“Modi is telling you that he brought Narmada water, but that’s a lie, too,” she quipped.
Gandhi said the present govenment has provided no irrigation facilities in rainless Saurashtra region. "It has even galloped subsity on urea... No benefits reach you. They are all diverted to big-shot industrialists why have a say in CMO."
In the 2007 elections, he came strongly back to power winning 117 of the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly; the Congress won just 59 seats.
Thin crowd leaves bosses fuming
The Congress' bid to bolster its poll campaign has reached the rock bottom.
With the party chief's public rally in Surat attracting a poor attendance, it would also add to the war of words between Congress leaders and their "bete noire" Narendra Modi.
The Surat rally had earlier managed to attract only 5,000 people -- against 40,000 in 2007 -- leaving party bosses foaming at the mouth. The top brass, if rumours were to believed, had ordered local leaders to "ensure a better crowd".
The rally was supposed to start at 11.30am, then put off 12.30 and then till 2pm. "The local workers were asked to make arrangements for an attractive crowd, keeping in mind the stature Sonia Gandhi enjoys... So far, we have managed to get only 12,000 people," sources told Dailybhaskar.com.
The 'troubled' Congress house - which has been shaken by the powerful exit of its heavyweight Narhari Amin and dissent over ticket distribution -- seems to have failed to play a masterstroke to gain the plethora of votes in the high-voltage Gujarat assembly elections.
After Surat, Gandhi will now address a rally in Keshod (Junagadh), which also goes to polls in the opening phase on December 13.
Her rallies in these constituencies come a day after the Gujarat Chief Minister attacked her and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of "conspiring against farmers".
If buzz is to be believed Singh and Rahul Gandhi, too, will campaign for first round of elections.
This is the second visit of the UPA Chairperson in the BJP-ruled state. Gandhi had addressed an election rally in Rajkot in November.
On the eve of Gandhi's campaigning, Modi had accused her as also Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of conspiring against farmers.