Bhopal/New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Sep 10 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit out at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s “hawabaazi” (hot air) barb with his own “hawalabaaz” (corrupt) comment, saying that the opposition party was worried at the tough decisions taken by the government against black money.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a visit to Odisha, accused the Modi government of “anti-farmer policies” as sharp exchanges continued between BJP and Congress leaders for the third successive day.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called BJP leaders ‘dagabaaz’ (betrayers) over the black money issue.
Modi, who addressed BJP workers in Bhopal before inaugurating the 10th Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, said decisions were taken one after another in the budget session of parliament.
“The ‘hawalabaaz’ were worried at the tough decisions by the government against black money. They could sense trouble ahead. That’s why they are putting roadblocks on all major decisions,” he said.
Modi’s comments were in response to Sonia Gandhi who had made a frontal attack on him on Tuesday during the Congress Working Committee meeting.
She had termed his electoral promises as nothing more than “hawabaazi”.
Hitting back, Modi on Thursday said he had hoped to make the Congress work with the NDA and push through fiscal reforms, but “ek hai jo manta nahi (there is one who does not agree),” in an oblique reference to the title of a Bollywood film.
Modi said the Congress has not been able to digest its defeat (in the Lok Sabha elections).
Speaking to the media in New Delhi, Surjewala hit out at Modi’s ‘hawalabaaz’ jibe.
“Let the 125 crore population of this country decide who is the ‘dagabaaz’. They (BJP leaders) made a ‘hawabaazi’ (hot air) promise before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to the people of putting Rs.15 lakh in the bank accounts of every person out of the black money brought back from abroad.
“But after coming to power, they betrayed the people by resorting to ‘hawabaazi’. Now, let the people decide who is the real ‘dagabaaz’ (betrayer),” Surjewala said.
Surjewala said the BJP had promised 50 percent profits to the farmers, but after coming to power at the Centre, they left farmers with no option but to commit suicide.
Earlier, Modi assured the people about fulfilling their dreams and appealed “to those defeated and rejected by the people to let the nation move ahead” — in another jibe at the opposition.
“Every political party must leave no stone unturned to meet public expectations if it has won (the elections) and also introspect in case of defeat,” he added.
Continuing his taunts on the Congress, Modi said: “There was a time when the BJP had only two members in parliament. The then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi made fun of the BJP in parliament and we had to listen to it.”
“There was a time when the Congress had more than 400 seats in parliament, but now had been reduced to 40-odd seats,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi, who addressed a farmers rally in Bargarh district of Odisha, said the Modi government had tried to snatch land from farmers.
“Farmers and labourers had reposed faith in Modi ji, who assured of ushering in ‘achhe din’ (good days). But after becoming prime minister, he forgot them in just two days. Where are the ‘achhe din’ for farmers?” he asked.
“The country is not of the corporate houses and a handful of people. It belongs to you. I promise that I and my party will fight for the cause of farmers and downtrodden,” the Congress vice president said.
Taking a dig at the NDA government for trying to dilute the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, the Congress vice president said it repeatedly tried to change the law but remained unsuccessful due to public pressure.
Rahul Gandhi also led ‘padyatras’ (march) in many places in Atabira block.
The Congress and the BJP had sparred on the Goods and Services Tax Bill on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, union minister Smriti Irani had responded strongly to Sonia Gandhi’s “hawabaazi” dig at Modi.